Firearms Control - Home Affairs Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by D&G Consultants UK Limited

I welcome an inquiry into firearms control and consider there is a need for both medical and criminal justice agencies to become involved in both firearms applications and renewals. Experience with dealing with very large numbers of certificate holders has shown me that people's lives and circumstances change and I consider the current Police supervision and inquiry procedures are inadequate!

I would like to see a shorter period of renewal—say three years with the inquiry officer checking that the firearm or shotgun is actually being used regularly and responsibility in accordance with his/her good reason for having the appropriate certificate. I realise that Police resources are limited but visits at renewal as well as  new issue should be compulsory, at present that is often omitted. Likewise some form of witnessed statement from landowners or sporting rights holders to confirm regular outings for deer or vermin control.

At present we have a voluntary certificate of competence for deer stalking which I welcome. This has had the result since its introduction (96) in large numbers of people taking the test and applying for firearm certificates. I believe the number approaches 20,000 in the UK. Many of those people will be unlikely to shoot any deer and may seldom actually use their firearms.

I rent several large estates for taking out fee paying clients and I insist that if I have authorised land use for their applications they do take a minimum number of outings each year and these are documented with results. Myself and my assistants also keep a vigilant eye on their behaviour, character and performance.

Several Police Forces now introduce a supervision order for new stalkers or rifle shooters, using experienced and qualified stalkers as mentors. Once competence is confirmed then the certificate restriction is removed. The holding of the Deer Stalking Certificate (level 1) is not a sufficient proof of competence !it can be attained in just three days of instruction, experience in the field under supervision or on the range is also essential as is the first harvesting of deer or destruction of vermin in the open countryside by new rifle shooters.

In conclusion most of us who legitimately own and use firearms are keen to Police our own industry and we have a good track record in that respect. It would be wrong to impose more onerous restrictions upon these responsible people as a result of insufficient inquiry by the Police or lack of alerts from the medical or legal agencies.

5 August 2010

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