Memorandum by Mr Richard H A Loweth
DEFICIENCIES IN THE FIREARMS (AMENDMENT)
Following the publication of the Cullen Report
the then Government moved legislation to prohibit from private
possession modern handguns. It was intended that a character such
as Thomas Hamilton would never again be able, lawfully, to obtain
such a weapon,
Yet the very law intended to prevent such an
occurrence in fact, still today, expressly allows a man such as
Hamilton to acquire and keep a lethal handgun, at home, for which
bulleted cartridges are readily available.
Hamilton formed a series of "Boys' Clubs"
in order to come into contact with young male children so that
he could fulfil his paedophilic agenda. These clubs took the form
of "Outward Bound" clubs.
Yet was Hamilton to be alive today, and to form
a series of "Boys' Clubs" with an "Athletic Sports"
emphasis he would disturbingly be able to lawfully obtain permission
to acquire and keep at home a handgun identical to one of those
used during the Dunblane murders.
THE 1997 ACT
Section 5(a) and 5(b) of the Firearms (Amendment)
Act 1997 specifically exempted from the handgun prohibition firearms
kept for the purpose of starting races at athletics meetings.
These are not purpose made blank firing handguns
in a weak metal alloy, but Smith and Wesson or other make handguns
originally manufactured to fire lethal missiles in a readily available
calibre such as .38" Special.
In many cases no modification to the original
lethal handgun are made. It remains just as manufactured and will
chamber and fire, with no work required, bulleted cartridges.
In some cases these handguns have the barrel
shortened to three inches and a blockage welded into them. Yet
a few minutes with a hacksaw can cut away the blocked section
to produce a handgun just as manufactured, but albeit with a shorter
Alternatively the blocked barrel can be removed
and an illegally obtained barrel substituted, one which the Government
said could be easily obtained when dismissing amendments to allow
target shooters to use disassembly as an option to retain their
It is suggested that the exemption for lethal
handguns to be retained for starting athletics meetings be repealed.
It is incredible that a person can possess a handgun quite capable
of killing a man just because they say it is wanted to start running
There is no specification to ensure, as with
deactivated firearms, that these exempted handguns cannot be readily
put back to lethal capability and indeed many never were much
altered initially. Barrels do not have to be pinned through the
breech, nor the rifling removed or the tube itself over-bored.
Yet why are such guns still allowed? Magazines
such as "Gun Mart" are full of advertisements for blank
firing guns that never were and never can be lethal. Purpose made
blank firing guns with light alloy construction incapable of chambering
or firing bulleted cartridges.
The last few years have seen the bankruptcy
of the British Amateur Athletics Association (the body that claimed
to "vet" applications for race starters) and the conviction
for a series of serious sexual assaults on children of a national
swimming coach . . . Just the sort of person that the exemption
on the 1997 Act was designed to cover.
The Home Office classes .38" calibre handgun
ammunition as being readily available. It does not permit "heritage
handguns" in .38" calibre to be kept at home yet allows
identical and more modern guns to be so kept by race starters!
There are alternatives to lethal handguns being
kept a home merely to start races. These were never examined during
Committee stage of the 1997 Act and the exemption under section
5(a) and 5(b) passed into law.
No specification was laid down to ensure that,
if these pistols were retained, they were certified by a Proof
House, as with deactivated weapons as being irrevocably converted
to blank firing status. Probably because they cannot be so converted
If that is so, then had this area been more
fully explored this exemption would not have been allowed. It
is respectfully suggested that it is perhaps time for the Home
Affairs Select Committee to repeal this clause. In the year 2000
there is no need to have a gun that can kill a man to merely make
a flash and a bang to start a race.