Written evidence submitted by the Preparatory
Schools Rifle Association|
1. Sporting Firearm use in the UK cannot be equated
to illegal firearm use.
2. UK Firearms law is now very complex and is
difficult to understand.
3. Tagging of medical records needs further consultation.
4. The administration of the current firearms
law has meant that the Police are now more concerned with the
type and use of the firearm rather than the person who wishes
to use it.
5. The effects of changes in airgun law need
to be properly assessed before further legislation is proposed.
Whether or not the current laws governing firearms
licensing are fit for purpose, including progress on implementing
the Committees recommendations set out in its Second Report of
the 1999-2000 session:
6. According to Home Office and police figures, the
number of legally-held firearms in the UK has been declining since
1988, whilst at the same time the number of reported offences
involving firearms has risen.
7. The government has accepted that young people
who show a genuine interest in shooting should be allowed to have
access to firearms in a controlled manner from a relatively early
age. The PSRA believes that it is a matter for their coaches,
parents and guardians to determine that age rather than it being
imposed by law. Children mature at differing ages and can handle
the responsibility at different times.
8. The minimum age for the grant of a Firearm Certificate
is 14 years and the police place restrictions on the use of the
firearms held. Nobody under the age of 15 can use a shotgun without
being supervised by someone over the age of 21. Nobody who is
under 18 may buy any firearm or ammunition for themselves.
9. These controls placed on young people are based
on a graduated approach which permits greater levels of access
as age and responsibility increase.
10. The current laws and amendments appear to have
related more to the type of gun, the use to which it may be put,
where it might be used, the type of mechanism, the length of the
gun and so on. Naturally this has led to the police having to
concentrate more on these issues than the suitability of the person
concerned to have and use a gun safely.
11. This has led to a complexity in law which even
the administratorsthe policehave great difficulty
in understanding and operating. To add to this, many of the conditions
placed on Firearm certificates are unenforceable, unpolicable
and have little or no impact on the public safety. This brings
the law into disrepute.
Proposals to improve information-sharing between
medics and the police in respect of gun licensing
12. At first glance the proposal that a doctor should
inform the police if a person holding a shotgun or firearm certificate
appears to be suffering from a mental or physical disorder which
may make them a danger to the public does seem to be a good idea.
However the implications of court appearances if that person's
firearm or shotgun certificate is revoked will put an extra strain
on the medical profession. It would also deter a certificate holder
from visiting their GP with any from of stress related illness,
which would be detrimental to all.
13. There is also the major problem of patient and
doctor confidentiality, and the risk of a belief forming amongst
certificate holders that their doctor may not be trusted in this
14. There are also concerns about the tagging of
medical records of every lawful shooter, which are kept for the
benefit of the patient and doctor and not as an aid to crime prevention.
There may also be issues of data security.
The danger presented by, and legislation regulating,
15. Most airguns are not certificated, but this does
not mean that they are not controlled. Airguns are considered
to be "firearms" for the purposes of the criminal law.
Those who misuse airguns are subject to over 30 criminal offences
with harsh penalties.
16. Air rifles are limited in power to a kinetic
energy of 12 foot-pounds (ft/lbs). Above these power levels, air
rifles can only be possessed on the authority of a firearm certificate
and any air pistols with a power over 6 ft/lbs become prohibited
weapons. (There is a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for
possession of such a prohibited pistol.)
17. Low-powered air rifles and air pistols are used
in PSRA target competitions and Olympic disciplines.
18. Early training in the safe use of firearms (usually
air guns) benefits everyone as the risk of injury due to miss-handling
is reduced. There are many benefits to the pupils as they learn
to concentrate and be calm to achieve a high score when target
19. Shooting is a sport in which male and female
competitors compete on equal standing. It often appeals to the
pupil who may not excel in the more physical sports. I have found
that success often increases their self worth - with all the benefits
which this brings.
20. It is an offence for anyone to fire an air pellet
beyond the premises where they have permission to shoot. When
young persons aged 14 and under are being supervised by an adult
aged 21 or over, both the young person and supervising adult commit
21. Young people between 14-18 years of age may not
buy or hire an airgun or ammunition or receive one as a gift.
However an airgun may be borrowed from a person over 18 years
of age and used on private property with the occupier's consent
without supervision. A person within this age group may not carry
an airgun in a public place at any time unless supervised by a
person of or over 21 and then only with a good reason for doing
22. Nobody under 18 years may buy an airgun or its
23. Licensing airguns would impose a huge administrative
burden on the police which would have an adverse impact on public
safety by diverting scarce resources away from front-line policing
to licence the law-abiding..
24. The Home Office statistics show that airgun crime
has been declining rapidly since 2003.
25. That the current Firearms Acts are consolidated
into a new Firearms Act.
26. No major changes need be made to the Firearms
Act, other than some simplification.
27. The effects of the latest air gun legislation
are assessed before any changes are proposed.
28. There should be a thorough examination of the
medical record "tagging" proposal with all parties agreeing
on strict guidelines.
29. If there is to be a new Firearm Act then the
accent must come back on the person rather than the types of firearm
involved, their uses or mechanisms.
30. The administrators in firearms licensing departments
should have knowledge of, and training in the sports they administer.
24 August 2010