The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has submitted evidence to the influential Home Affairs Select Committee.
The committee announced that it intends to hold a thorough inquiry into firearms law following the shooting incidents in Cumbria and Northumbria.
BASC believes the inquiry could be critical to the future of shooting sports in the UK and called on all who shoot to submit their own views to the committee.
The main points of BASC’s evidence are:
• The number of licensed firearms used in crime is insignificant.
• There is no significant relationship between armed crime and legally owned guns.
• Between 1999 – 2003/04 armed crime rose steadily whilst the number of firearm and shotgun certificates fell by nine per cent.
• The Firearms Acts 1997 have had no impact on armed crime and have destroyed the sport of pistol shooting with no benefit to public safety.
• Handguns remain the weapon of choice for armed criminals.
• The current regime for licensing shotguns is the most efficient part of the administration of the Firearms Acts because it concentrates on the applicant.
• The proposal to tag certificate holders’ medical records is disproportionate and requires further consideration if it is to make any contribution to public safety.
• The current requirement to allow the police to ask for factual details from a certificate holder’s GP is proportionate and effective.
• Airguns are already heavily regulated by law, particularly where young people are concerned.
• Airgun offences of violence against the person have fallen steadily over the last 38 years.
• If airguns were licensed, the police service would not be able to cope with the additional workload.
BASC’s recommendations are:
• The Firearms Acts 1968 – 1997 should be consolidated into a single Act.
• Any new firearms legislation should be divided into two acts; criminal justice matter and licensing administration.
• Appeals against police licensing decisions should be dealt with by a tribunal.
• Airgun control laws should not be devolved to Scotland.
• The current regime for licensing shotguns should be extended to sporting rifles.
BASC is seeking permission from the Home Affairs Select Committee to publish the evidence and to appear before the committee to give oral evidence.
BASC’s director of firearms, Bill Harriman, said: “We hope the committee is going to make recommendations based on the evidence rather than on the emotion surrounding the recent incidents in Cumbria and Northumbria. We are heartened that so many people have made submissions, it is important that individual voices are heard as well as those of the shooting organisations.”