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The Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Firearms Control 2010

posted 7 Aug 2010, 07:03 by Roger Pettett
From: Heather Webb On Behalf Of NRANews
Sent: 05 August 2010 17:34
To: Heather Webb
Subject: The Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Firearms Control 2010

Dear Club Secretary,                        


The Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Firearms Control 2010

 
A Guide for submitting evidence

 
Agreed by the British Shooting Sports Council and supported by the National
Rifle Association

The influential parliamentary Home Affairs Committee has announced that it
will conduct an enquiry into Firearms Control. The Committee has called for
written evidence from interested parties. Anyone can make a submission and
the NRA encourages all those who shoot to do so. You can find the request
for evidence online by clicking on the URL below: 

 

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/news/firearms-control/

 

Further guidance on submitting evidence can be found here: 

 

http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/take-part-in-committee-inquiries/witness/

 

The NRA will be making a detailed submission, as will our friends in the
British Shooting Sports Council. However, it’s vitally important that the
Committee hears from individual shooters, collectors and hunters too. 

 

Submissions must be “original work” and not merely repeat the wording of
circulated information. Put your arguments in your own words. The points
given below are intended as an aid to memory and are not intended to be
copied. Your evidence should be in by 27th August 2010. They should be made
by email to homeaffcom@parliament.uk using either Word or rich text. They
need to contain your name, telephone number and address. You should also
tell the Committee the type of shooting that you do, how long you have been
shooting and why it is an important part of your life. Paragraphs should be
numbered for ease of reference. If you don’t have email then send hard copy
to Home Affairs Committee, House of Commons, 7 Milbank, London. SW18 3JA.

 

This is your chance to do your bit to help protect shooting sports. If you
make a submission, please send a copy of it to NRANews@nra.org.uk so that we
can gauge the response level. 

 

Here are some general points to open your submission.

 

*	According to Shooting Sports, a report published by PACEC in 2006,
hunting with firearms is worth £1.6 billion to the United Kingdom,
supporting the equivalent of 70,000 jobs. 

 

*	Shooting providers spend an estimated £250 million a year on habitat
and wildlife management, five times the annual income of Britain’s biggest
conservation organisation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

 

*	Shooting is among the safest of sports and particularly so in the
UK. According to United Nations statistics, the UK figure for accidental
firearms fatalities is one of the lowest at 0.02 per 100,000, a figure which
includes military and police fatalities.

 

*	Shooting is an international sport. In the 2006 Commonwealth Games,
23 of the UK’s 116 medals were for shooting, the second highest
medal-winning discipline for UK athletes, exceeded only by swimming with 24.

 

The Committee wants to focus on the following issues.  After each issue (in
bold), there are some of the points that you should consider including in
your submission. Please put them into your own words. 

 

The extent to which legally-held guns are used in criminal activity and the
relationship between gun control and gun crime, including the impact of the
Firearms (Amendment) Acts 1997. 

*	No reliable statistics exist for the extent to which legally held
guns are used in armed crime, because this figure is so small. Both police
and Home Office commentators accept that the shooting community is
law-abiding to a very high degree.

 

*	Home Office figures for 2008/09 show that firearms crime only
accounts for 0.3% of all crime. 

 

*	Firearms offenses have fallen steadily since their peak in 2003/04
and have reduced by 41% since then. 

 

*	There is no relationship between gun crime and legitimate gun
ownership. In Scotland in 2005-6, gun crime fell by 6%, 28% lower than nine
years previously. At the same time there has been an increase in
privately-owned firearms, currently at a five-year high in that country.
Home Office figures published in May 2006 for gun crime in England and Wales
show a similar pattern. 2004 - 2005 saw gun crime fall by 8% but the number
of privately-owned firearms rose 8% from the previous year.  

 

*	Although handguns were banned by the Firearms (Amendment) Acts 1997,
they are still routinely used in crime to the degree that they are the
criminal’s weapon of choice.   In 2008/09, handguns were used in 52% of all
non-airgun firearms crime.

 

*	Gun crime rose steadily from 1999, to peak in 2003/04. During the
same period the number of firearm and shotgun certificates on issue fell by
8% and 9% respectively

 

Whether or not the current laws governing firearms licensing are fit for
purpose. 

*	Shotguns are routinely used for pest control, wildfowling, game
shooting and clay target shooting. There are 1,366,800 shotguns held on
574,946 shotgun certificates in Great Britain, an average of 2.4 shotguns
per certificate holder. Different types and sizes of shotgun are used for
different purposes and quarry species. Over 180 million shotgun cartridges
are used each year.

 

*	The current licensing system for shotguns is both proportionate and
effective because it concentrates on the suitability of the applicant. The
police can refuse an application if they think the person does not have a
good reason for possessing a shotgun or is likely to be a danger to the
public safety or to the peace.

 

*	.22 rifles are widely used for shooting pests and small game as well
as for target shooting. There are 138,728 Firearm Certificates on issue.
BASC estimates that at least 75% of them relate to .22 rifles.

 

*	Most .22 sporting rifles are fitted with telescopic sights to
improve the accuracy of shooting; and with sound moderators to minimise
noise pollution. Derrick Bird’s rifle has been wrongly described in the
press as a “high powered sniper rifle fitted with a silencer”. This
description is both inaccurate and unhelpful.

 

*	Successive governments have 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 NRA believes that it is
a matter for parents and guardians to determine that age rather than it
being imposed by law.

 

*	The minimum age for the grant of a Firearm Certificate is 14 years
and the police can 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.

 

*	The controls placed on young people are based on a graduated
approach which permits greater levels of access as age and responsibility
increases. 

 

Proposals to improve information-sharing between medics and the police in
respect of gun licensing; 

 

*	BSSC is already exploring the proposal to put a marker or tag on
firearms owners’ medical records with colleagues from the police and the
British Medical Association.  The main concern with this idea is with the
security of information and who has access to it within GP’s practices.
Wider public concern has already been expressed about the security of the
proposed NHS database. 

 

*	Further concerns relate to tagged records acting as a disincentive
for certificate holders with minor mental health problems from seeking help
because of a fear that they will lose their certificates. There is also a
general lack of basic knowledge of sporting firearms within the medical
profession and BSSC is aware of a significant proportion of GPs who are
opposed to the private ownership of firearms.

 

*	 There is no scientific evidence to show that psychometric testing
is capable of detecting someone who is likely to become dangerous with a
firearm.

The danger presented by, and legislation regulating, airguns.

·        Home Office statistics show that in 2008/09, the level of airgun
offences declined by 19% which in turn was a fall of 15% over the previous
year.

·        The overall decline in airgun offences since the peak year of
2003/4 is 56%.

·        Although most airguns are not certificated, 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 a wide
raft of over 30 potential criminal charges with commensurate penalties
including heavy fines and imprisonment.

·        Air rifles are limited in power to a kinetic energy of 12
foot-pounds (ft/lbs).  In comparison a .22 rimfire rifle, used for training
cadets, target shooting and small pest control has a kinetic energy of
around 135 ft/lbs and a standard shotgun can easily reach 1350 ft/lbs. Air
pistols are limited to 6 ft/lbs. Above these power levels, air rifles can
only be possessed on the authority of a firearm certificate and air pistols
are prohibited weapons.  

·        Air rifles and pistols are used in target shooting up to Olympic
level. Low powered air rifles (< 12 ft/lbs) fire a light projectile over
short distances and are also used to control pests up to the size of a
rabbit at ranges up to 25 yards. They are effective around buildings where
standard firearms cannot be used.

 

·       Informed estimates suggest that there are upwards of 4 million low
powered airguns in circulation. A retrospective ban on possession would be
impractical because no records exist of who owns them. This would simply
criminalise large number of people to no effect and a large number of air
rifles and pistols could become available to a criminal black market.  

 

*	Retrospective licensing of currently owned air weapons would not
improve public safety because recent experience shows that most people who
currently own one would not apply for a licence. Only already lawful users
would be likely to apply.

 

*	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 the offence.

 

*	Young people under 14 may not use an airgun unless they are
supervised by someone over 21. 

 

*	Young people between 14 -17 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 years and then only with a good reason
for doing so.

 

*	Nobody under 18 years may buy an airgun or its ammunition. 

 

·       Licensing airguns would impose an intolerable administrative burden
on the police which would have an adverse impact on public safety by
diverting scarce resources away from front-line policing and firearms
licensing.

Add anything further you consider important to your submission. Again,
please send a copy of it to NRANews@nra.org.uk so that we can gauge the
response level. 

Many thanks for your support


Robin Pizer

NRA Chairman

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