Memorandum by Mr D J Lloyd
INQUIRY INTO CONTROLS OVER FIREARMS
Having taken an active part in the Lord Cullen
Inquiry I appreciate the opportunity to contribute towards the
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
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
speakersparticularly the Dutch Policeseveral 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
(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.