Memorandum by Mr Kevin Gray forwarded
by Mr Jim Wallace QC MP
LETTER TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE FROM
MR JIM WALLACE QC MP
Please find enclosed a copy of the letter which
I have received from my constituent Mr Kevin Gray of Scousburgh
in Shetland. You will note that Mr Gray and two Shetland colleagues
enjoyed considerable success at the Island Games in Gotland earlier
this year, notwithstanding the fact that they had to use pistols
which were given to them by members of the Gotland Pistol Club
when they arrived at the event. This was because they are forbidden
to practice their sport in Shetland.
Mr Gray obviously believes that the legislation
brought in to prohibit the use of handguns in the aftermath of
the appalling tragedy at Dunblane has gone too far in restricting
the opportunity to practice by those who are bona fide
sportsmen and indeed are of international standard. (You will
note that Mr Gray has been a member of the Scottish International
I undertook to pass on his letter to you. I
do recall that at the time when the legislation was going through
Parliament there were concerns expressed about those who were
of Commonwealth Games or Olympic standard and indeed I can assure
you that the Islands Games are an important part of the sporting
calendar in Britain's islands communities. Those who have taken
part in the sport to a very high level do seem to have some legitimate
ground for complaint if, as a result, they cannot compete on equal
terms at international sporting events, and indeed have to borrow
firearms when they arrive at the event.
It would appear that in so many other respects
the firearms legislation has been very effective. I understand
that the Home Affairs Select Committee is currently examining
the question of firearms legislation and I hope it will be possible
for you to take account of people like Mr Gray and other international
competitors who now find it impossible to compete at international
events on equal terms.
Jim Wallace QC MP
8 December 1999
LETTER FROM MR KEVIN GRAY TO MR JIM WALLACE
Following the return of the island games team
from Gotland and the success of some competitors you might have
noticed in the press pistol shooting's prominence in the medal
table. If not we, Rab Bicket, David Lewis and myself won nine
of the 15 medals.
But for the kindness of the Gotland Pistol Club
who lent us firearms we would not have been able to represent
Shetland other than air pistol. We were so close to the top scores
using ill fitting pistolsby that I mean precision ISSF
pistols grips are made to fit the owners hand and trigger position,
trigger pull and weight etc, are tuned to the individual, "very
complicated" and many hours are spent getting it just right.
We desperately need our own .22 and 32 cal ISSF target pistols
to compete with, as all of the other islands do.
The people we shot with and spoke to at the
games could not believe the stupidity of the British legislation.
For a person like myself who possesses two stalking rifles, two
clay target shotguns, a wild fowling shotgun and a .22 rabbit
rifle and cannot as a Scottish international pistol team member
be allowed to possess ISSF match pistols was beyond comprehension.
As a competitor from Aland said to me "its like saying you
can have a box of matches but not a lighter".
I hope that my writing to you will encourage
the Liberal Democrats to change their attitude to the possession
of pistols by sportsmen as it can now be clearly seen that the
ban on pistols was nothing more than political gesturing by a
failing Conservative Party and an arrogant Labour government which
flies in the face of Lord Cullen's statement which said "the
banning of pistols could not be justified".
The former and current Governments unjustifiable
legislation did nothing to protect people like the late Jill Dando.
It was I believe Alun Michael who said "now we have taken
pistols off the street Britain will be a safer place" a stupid
statement at best, all the pistols that were on the street are
still there in the hands of the criminals who recognise no law.
All they have done is taken pistols off ranges and deprived sportsmen
of a fine sport.