Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Mr Kevin Gray forwarded by 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 Pistol Team).

  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


  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 pistols—by 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.

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