Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Mr D J Lloyd


  Having taken an active part in the Lord Cullen Inquiry I appreciate the opportunity to contribute towards the current Inquiry.

  Addressing the questions in the order listed, I would make the following observations and comments.


    (a)  Existing legislation already covers the misuse of air weapons in public. This covers both urban and rural areas. Updated penalties could be applied for their misuse.

    (b)  If the current legislation is enforced and upheld by the courts we see no inadequacies in existing controls.

    (c)  To introduce licensing of air weapons which are under the legal limit, ie 16 ft lbs for pistols and12 ft lbs for rifles, would be a massive and exceptionally costly task and would achieve no useful purpose. Air guns over these limits are already licensed.

  The use of airguns is already restricted by the laws on pellets leaving one's property, of Armed Trespass, use in a public place, the age of users and responsible adult supervision. It is worthy of note that air gun shooting is the fastest growing sport for many years. The National Rifle Association has the figures.


    (a)  Current legislation is already in place to cover any problems regarding the misuse of shotguns in urban and rural areas. However, if a criminal wishes to misuse a shotgun, no amount of legislation will prevent the offender.

    (b)  All legally held shotguns are held on a shotgun certificate, each gun being registered with the police, who maintain a record of names and addresses. For honest and law abiding citizens there can be no benefit in extending legislation, which would generate vast expense and create ill will. It is virtually unknown for a shotgun to be used in a criminal act by a licensed shotgun owner. The days of sawn-off shotguns being used for criminal purpose is a thing of the past due to the availability to the criminal of imported cheap weaponry with greater firepower than the standard two-shot shotgun.


    (a)  The laws introduced in 1997 have been proven to be almost useless in removing handguns from criminal circulation. The removing of handguns form licensed target shooters has not helped in a reduction of handgun related crime. Figures of current firearms-related crime in my local area, ie Paddington Division, also show a figure of 168 incidents for the period 1 April 1999 to 1 October 1999.

    (b)  Ready availability of illegal imported pistols and machine pistols at relatively low prices is attractive to the criminal, who would prefer to be equipped with "fashionable" equipment than with the purchase of a dubious re-activation of some deactivated weapon.

  It is obvious that no further controls or amendments to controls to current legislation can be effective on guns which are already totally banned. Any new controls on weapons not yet banned or changes in licensing would not be any more effective against armed crime as the figures are still rising. The 1997 legislation had no effect in removing firearms from criminal use.

  The disposal of surrendered guns, as mentioned, is in the hands of the Home Office, who make arrangements for total destruction by melting, in collaboration with the Police Authorities.

  Having attended the International Seminar on Firearms at the Scarman Centre of the University of Leicester earlier this year and having listened to very informed speakers from SO11 at Scotland Yard, HM Customs and Excise as well as international speakers—particularly the Dutch Police—several important points became obvious:

    (1)  International co-operation by forces of Law and Order is being sought by several of the European states, but is in its infancy and needs resources to develop this urgent activity in the fight against illegal weapons.

    (2)  As a consequence of the removal of European frontier posts, trafficking in both weapons and drugs is now much easier for criminals. Therefore, a situation was created whereby the Customs and Excise have a nearly impossible task in dealing with the daily flow of illegal material. Once again International Intelligence exchanges need to be encouraged, irrespective of the cost.

    (3)  The United Kingdom needs a Central Firearms Register, where all licensed guns are on a computer. The existing individual County Police recording method is unwieldy, should one authority need to make enquiries about a specific firearm. If the existing system was applied to motor vehicles on a county basis without Swansea, there would be chaos.

    (4)  I attended the inaugural meeting of "GUNWATCH" held in Central London last week, organised by the Central London Firearms Intelligence Team. The speakers were representatives from the Home Office, the police and Customs and Excise. The graphic paper given by the Home Office was both informative and updated by the same speaker's paper at the University of Leicester. Those meetings should be encouraged and held regularly, as the Question and Answer session proved beneficial to all present.

  In conclusion, relating to airguns, it is to be remembered that they were only designed for sport and should not be labelled as "weapons" unless they exceed the present legal limit.

  As Chairman of the Vintage Arms Association, where our membership of over 600 covers all the United Kingdom, we hope that one day pistol events will return to the sporting calendar, as in other European countries.

October 1999

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