Category Archives: Our Responses & Comments

Durham Constabulary and Medical Examinations

“In partnership with Durham Constabulary and after consultation with Durham County Council following the publication of a Domestic Homicide Review, County Durham & Darlington LMC has agreed to pilot a new process for providing medical information about applicants for firearms certificates”

Firearms UK are of the same view expressed by some other organisations in that Durham Constabulary and County Durham & Darlington LMC have exceeded their remit and that requirements under existing law only require a disclosure of medical conditions. Application authorities must then make judgement if the opinion of Medical Practitioners is to be sought.

Firearms UK advise that any applicant who is approached to participate in this trial contacts any Shooting Organisation they may be a member of and seek opinion and assistance, or seek independent legal advice from a specialist law firm before accepting any obligation to comply with the trial.

In reply to @borocomphelp

This post is a response to a comment posted by @borocomphelp during a Twitter conversation on what shooting clubs and ranges can do to improve and promote shooting.

borocomphelp

Firstly we are not familiar with the term “Butters”, so given the context we will assume you actually meant “nutters”. Now everyone is entitled to their own point of view, however absurd, but let us point out a few things for you, and anyone else who shares such an opinion.

Shooting is not only a legal recreational activity enjoyed by a million people in the UK alone, but shooting is also a key part of many jobs and Great Britain are internationally recognized in the shooting sports. To suggest we should not be proud of our heritage and our achievements in this area is to suggest we should have no pride if England won the World Cup. Secondly shooting is well recognized as safe and responsible sport and hobby, should those who enjoy a Sunday game of cricket be ridiculed because one night someone used a cricket bat as weapon?

Rather than make ill-informed judgements presumably based on sensationalized stories in the media or what you see in movies why not take a look at the shooting sports themselves, pop a long to a clay shooting ground; you still may not like them, but you would likely change your absurd opinion noted above.

Open Letter to Lorraine Kelly, Scottish Sun Columnist

On Saturday 14/12/13 Lorraine Kelly spoke about Gun Control in the US one year on from the Sandy Hook tragedy. The article was full of the usual emotional based rhetoric with no consideration given to facts or the pro gun side. I tried to contact Lorraine via the E-mail address on her column but it was sent back undelivered. Below is the E-mail.

“Dear Lorraine,

I read with some interest your article regarding Sandy Hook and the US pro gun lobby. A very emotive piece but I wonder if you had given some consideration to the pro gun lobby’s arguments and certain facts and figures.

You try to trivialise the pro gun argument by using the word “bleating”(I wonder if you would use this term to describe people if they were defending their rights to free speech or trial by jury.) However if you would care to look at their side you would see they have very many valid arguments and the facts go some way towards backing it up. Do you know that firearms are used for self defence and prevention of crime daily? Estimates range from hundreds of thousands to millions of uses a year often with no shots fired. Would you rather have hundreds of thousands of innocent law abiding people raped,mugged,assaulted or murdered because of the actions of one madman?

Studies have shown that victims of crime that offer armed resistance are less likely to come to harm than those that offer no resistance, this effect is actually higher with females than men.

More children in the US are killed each year by drowning in garden swimming pools than by firearms. If people were so concerned with saving lives then surely swimming pools would be a higher priority?

You have stated that gun sales in the US has gone up. Well if guns are the problem they surely we should be seeing millions of gun deaths in the US every day?

You mentioned Dunblane and how gun laws were (unfairly) tightened after this tragedy, however you don’t mention that gun crime actually sky rocketed after the handgun ban, you do not mention that there was more than enough justification under laws at the time to remove Hamilton’s firearms, you also don’t mention that Hamilton had actually obtained one of his firearms illegally and for some reason was allowed to put it on ticket. So even if his firearms certificate was revoked he would still appear to have access to an illegal source.

More and more evidence is emerging each day that there is no link between legal gun ownership and violent/gun crime. The evidence would also appear to suggest that the more law abiding gun owners their are then the safer society is as violent crime falls. Restricting the rights and freedoms of the law abiding because of the actions of criminals and madmen does not make society a better place

There was a period in the UK where anyone could purchase a firearm and freely carry it and there did not seem to be many issues.

Are you aware that in China where the Government heavily restricts firearms(A common  trait amongst totalitarian regimes is to disarm the people they wish to control) there have been several attacks in schools where the perpatrator has used a knife to murder and maim dozens of children.

Until people stop blaming guns and actually look at the root causes of violence it will never be stopped.

I realise that your column is an opinion piece but I think you have a duty to your readers to let them know both sides of the argument and make their own minds up. I think once people get past the emotive argument of the anti gun argument they will see that rationally the pro gun lobby are in fact correct.

Regards,
Dave Ewing”

Environment Minister announces new measures to tackle raptor persecution

Firearms UK supports the Scottish Governments efforts to tackle illegal raptor persecution and other wildlife crime….

However, buried in the Environment Minister’s announcement is the following statement;

“I will be asking Scottish Natural Heritage in their capacity as the authority for licensing decisions under section 16 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act to examine how and in what circumstances they can restrict the use of General Licences to trap and shoot wild birds on land where they have good reason to believe that crimes against wild birds have taken place. These General Licences allow the holders to carry out actions that would otherwise be unlawful if undertaken, without any reference to SNH. We regard the use of General Licences as a privilege that should not be extended in circumstances where there is evidence that their use may be facilitating illegal activities.”

Firearms UK is concerned that restricting General Licenses may have an unjustified and unfair impact on law abiding shooters. Why should someone else’s illegal activities impact those who actually obey the law?

The full announcement can be read here

We encourage the law abiding shooters of Scotland to write to their MSPs expressing concern at the potential impact of restrictions to the General Licenses.

You can write to your MSPs via the writetothem online service

Our Response to the GCN’s Mission Statement and Objectives

Front cover for Firearms UK Response to the GCN

UPDATE: Write Your Own Laws – The Telegraph

On the 16th of May 2013 Firearms UK responded to the Telegraph’s article “Write your own laws — and win prizes”

Our submission was:

“The right for law abiding citizens to keep firearms as recognised by the Bill of Rights 1689. All current Firearms Acts to be repealed in place of a new simplified act which recognizes this right for citizens without a history of violent or persistent offending. Emphasis on harsh punishments to be on criminal misuse and stopping the criminalization and penalization of ordinary responsible and law abiding citizens.”

Despite receiving the most votes by far, 68 votes with our nearest rival at 42 votes, the Telegraph has chosen to put the following forward to MPs;

  1. A ten-year term limit for Prime Ministers, suggested by Alun Morris.
    (2 votes)
  2. A flat tax, proposed by Taxfair. (3 votes)
  3. A law to encourage the ‘greening’ of public spaces, proposed by Mattstrat. (3 votes)
  4. Abolish the loophole that leaves student parents exempt from paying child maintenance, proposed by Rebecca Lynall. (4 votes)
  5. A ban on spitting in public, proposed by LestWeForget. (1 vote)
  6. Repeal the ban on hand guns and re-open shooting clubs, proposed by Colliemum. (8 votes)

Interestingly the Telegraph highlighted the following from Colliemum’s submission: “After all, why should only criminals be ‘allowed’ to possess guns and shoot unarmed, defenceless citizens and police officers?”

For completeness the actual submission is:

“Repeal the various acts which prohibit citizens in good standing (no criminal record) from owning and bearing hand guns, and re-open shooting clubs so people can be trained in the sfe [safe] use and handling of said guns. After all, why should only criminals be ‘allowed’ to possess guns and shoot unarmed, defenceless citizens and police officers?”

Firearms UK is disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised with the decision of the Telegraph, however the law proposed by Colliemum, “Repeal the ban on hand guns and re-open shooting clubs”, does merit a vote and we would encourage everyone to support it.

More details and how to register your vote can be found here

Write Your Own Laws – The Telegraph

Firearms UK has commented on the “Write your own laws — and win prizes” article in the Telegraph.

If you could take a minute to visit the page and “recommend” our comment it would be much appreciated. It should be near the top when the filter is set to “best rating”, just look for our logo.

Our comment is as follows….

“The right for law abiding citizens to keep firearms as recognised by the Bill of Rights 1689. All current Firearms Acts to be repealed in place of a new simplified act which recognizes this right for citizens without a history of violent or persistent offending.

Emphasis on harsh punishments to be on criminal misuse and stopping the criminalization and penalization of ordinary responsible and law abiding citizens.”

Hopefully it will make some people think.

The article can be found here

Many thanks

Media Privilege

Trust the British Press to find new depths of sensationalism in the pursuit of profits. The Mail on Sunday have today published a piece that in their minds is an expose of an international security scandal, only they had to break several laws to do it, and will yet again be another example of the media getting away with crimes that would see the rest of us behind bars.

The piece entitled “How Mail On Sunday ‘printed’ first plastic gun in UK using a 3D printer- and then took it on board Eurostar without being stopped in security scandal” shows two reporters with a manufactured version of the Liberator pistol. The Liberator pistol designed by Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed in the US, is the latest in a series of developments from the federally licensed manufacturer to produce a working firearm from a 3D printer. This model fires a single .38 calibre round with the use of an additional metal firing pin, the remaining parts, as demonstrated here, are capable of being produced via a 3D printer.

The Mail on Sunday would have us believe this is a world-wide security scandal, but is it really? Firstly the fact that this entirely “plastic” firearm is completely inoperable without the addition of a metal firing pin and of course ammunition was quickly glossed over, the paper preferring to focus on a working model, one which they did not get passed security, instead identify their recreation as “The pistol, capable of firing a deadly 0.38-calibre bullet”. Without the firing pin and ammunition the two reporters successfully managed to smuggle past security several pieces of plastic which by themselves or combined where no threat to anyone on board the train, and to suggest otherwise is bordering on ridiculous, and the same is true for airports or other secure areas.

Airports for one don’t only utilize metal detectors to detect threats, there are various types of scanners available, such as CT scanners and different search and detection mechanisms, all of which are likely to detect rounds of ammunition, if not the required metal firing pin, without either, the smuggled “weapon” is only a weapon by legal definition.

What the Mail on Sunday has successfully demonstrated here is that there is one rule for the media and one rule for the rest of us. The two reporters have broken numerous laws during this stunt, laws for which the typical working person will be subjected to automatic minimum term prison sentences; for example in breach of Section 5(1)(aba) regarding the possession of short barreled weapons as shown below, section 287 of the criminal justice act 2003 now requires an automatic minimum sentence of 5 years for a person over 21 years of age and between 18 and 21 the sentence requires “detention at a young offenders institution under section 96 PCC(S)A 2000.”

It is an offence under Section 1 of the 1968 Firearms Act to:

“to have in his possession, or to purchase or acquire, a firearm to which this section applies without holding a firearm certificate in force at the time, or otherwise than as authorised by such a certificate;”

And also to:

“to have in his possession, or to purchase or acquire, any ammunition to which this section applies without holding a firearm certificate in force at the time, or otherwise than as authorised by such a certificate, or in quantities in excess of those so authorised.” (Firearms Act, `968)
It is also an offence under Section 5 of the 1968 Firearms Act if a person has in their possession, purchases or acquires, or manufactures, sells or transfers:

“any firearm which either has a barrel less than 30 centimetres in length or is less than 60 centimetres in length overall, other than an air weapon, a muzzle-loading gun or a firearm designed as signalling apparatus” (Section 5, 1968)

In contrast a serving member of the SAS is now having to face a retrial “despite a last-minute claim that prosecutors acted improperly by consulting on the case” over possession of a pistol and ammunition against the same acts. If rule of law must be applied without consideration for the acts of our special forces, than why should the media be treated leniently when they break the same laws within view of the public, and openly admit to it? (The Guardian, 2013)

Finally whilst unfamiliar with the going rates for black market firearms in the UK, I’d be surprised to hear about any criminal or terrorist paying £1,700 just for a 3D printer, which assuming they have got everything else right may allow them to manufacture a single shot .38 pistol, when presumably there would be a whole host of illegal firearms already available for a lot less.

Firearms Act 1968 Chapter 27 (1968), 30 May 1968 [Online] Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/27 [Accessed 12 May 2013]

Section 5, Firearms Act 1968 Chapter 27 (1968) [Online] Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/27/section/5 [Accessed 12 May 2013]

The Guardian (2013) SAS sniper Danny Nightingale faces retrial over illegally possessing pistol,1 May 2013 [Online] Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/may/01/sas-sniper-retrial-pistol [Accessed 12 May 2013]

Response to Ed Pilkington, Guardian.co.uk

As expected it wasn’t long before those who champion the case for gun control laid the blame for the Boston bombings at the NRA (Pilkington, 2013). According to Pilkington, evidence has now come to light that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on a national terrorism watch list; in spite of this, Tamerlan (as well as his brother), was able to legally purchase weapons and explosives from gun shops.

So it is perhaps not surprising that gun control supporters would be casting accusations towards the NRA who in support of the millions of lawful gun owners in America, successfully campaigned against the Bill which was once again put forward by Frank Lautenberg, the Democratic US senator for New Jersey and have successfully halted the push for further gun control at the Senate (Chang, 2013).

On the surface stopping dangerous terrorists from purchasing firearms and explosives (H.R 1506, 2011) (S.34, 2013) could only be described as a good thing, yet the objections to the proposed Bills are not unfounded, and nor are associated criticisms limited to the NRA, or even just gun owners. Both the H.R 1506 and the S.34 Bill are designed to give the Attorney General discretionary powers to deny the sale or transfer of a firearm as part of an expanded background check system or to deny or revoke a firearms licence or permit. It could be argued that the Attorney General cannot be trusted to exercise fair discretion in such cases, given that he is the appointee of a government administration that has already demonstrated a willingness to support further restrictions on firearms ownership (NRA – ILA, 2011). You don’t have to look far to find cases of people side stepping common sense to further their ideological campaign against lawful firearms ownership as is evidenced by the 7 year old who was suspended from his school for pretending a pencil was a gun whilst playing with his friend (McNamara, 2013).

The use of the ever expanding and secretive watch list system has also raised consistent objections from the American Civil Liberties Union which published a statement in 2010 before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs that included the following statement:

“The ACLU believes that the current terror watch list process is deeply flawed. Evidence from numerous government reports document ill-designed and inaccurate lists with serious inadequacies in the process for placing and removing individuals from the list. Even worse, the lists are shrouded in secrecy: who is on the list, the standard for placement on the list, and the requirements for removal from the list are all secret.” (ACLU, 2010)

Lautenberg is quoted as saying “but it’s time to put the safety of our families first”, yet despite often being portrayed as a corporate lobbying arm for gun manufactures, the NRA, founded in 1871, seeks to do exactly that. The NRA’s Eddie the Eagle Gun Safe program, for example, was a ground-breaking accident prevention program for young people, and has no doubt saved countless of lives with its simple but effective message of gun safety “If you see a gun, STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult” (NRA, 2012).

The NRA, now reported to have over five million members (Klukowski, 2013), through its defence of the 2nd Amendment are also serving the safety needs of adults, by campaigning to ensure that their right to keep and bear arms, in defence of their families is not put at risk by the political and ideologically motivated attacks of gun control organizations and their supporters.

Increased restrictions and an extended background check system would not stop criminals or even terrorists from purchasing firearms. Criminals will simply buy them on the black market, or they will steal them. Criminals that can’t pass a background check will seek other means to acquire their arms, and with the conviction rate for the criminals that do fail a background check being so low, it is far better to begin enforcing existing legislation before trying to rush through new legislation, which will always impact the law-abiding citizen disproportionately (Susman, 2013).

All gun sales from licenced gun dealers whether online, face-to-face in a store, or at a gun show, already go through background checks. What legislation such as that put forward by Lautenberg will do is impede private law-abiding citizens from selling guns between themselves. To own a fully automatic gun you have to pay a special tax stamp, be checked by the FBI and have your finger prints recorded; you cannot simply just go and pick one up with no paperwork at a gun show (BRP Corp, 2013), as Pilkington’s article suggests. Despite the rhetoric, the quote from Michael James Barton tucked in at the very end of Pilkington’s piece accurately describes the meaning of the “terrorist watch list”: it’s a mere flag, something to grab the attention of the authorities, nothing more, without the evidence worthy of a conviction those on the list are US citizens and are therefore protected under the Constitution.

Erika
Firearms UK

Firearms UK is an online campaign aiming to protect gun ownership for law abiding citizens in the UK and to encourage unity and positive action within the shooting community.

To improve legibility the bibliography for this article is available separately as a .pdf download

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Supporting BASC’s New Campaign for Mobile Users

Today BASC have launched a new campaign aimed at mobile phone users. The campaign is to encourage people to get in contact with BASC via the website and report any problems they have experienced in accessing shooting related websites on their mobile phones. To tackle this problem BASC is already working with Virgin Media to develop solutions and they are willing to work with other networks as well, but need you to get involved.

Part of the problem is due to age restrictions on the mobile phones, and although these can be changed in a matter of hours, according to BASC, and we agree such a solution is only “treating the symptom and not the cause”. Such a solution also posses a problem for those who may need timely access to information either on the shooting websites or on other websites which may impose similar filtering such as Google Maps, for example whilst travelling.

We ourselves have been discussing a similar issue with a UK airport over its use of URL filter, which regrettably blocked our own website and I have personally been unable to find any information on a particular shooting ground via the Google Maps application on my Android mobile phone. We encourage you all to be on the look out for such problems and report them to BASC and your network provider as discussed on the BASC website.