There have been over the past years several high profile shootings by owners of legally held firearms, from the Hungerford shooting onwards. Firearms regulations were tightened after this event, there were few who railed against the basic proposition, although the magazine restriction, even now, can lead to lively debate. With a whole host of measures employed to control the ownership of firearms by the civilian populace, Things settled down until Dunblane; where, after this most heinous of crimes, even further restrictions were applied. In 1997 the government of the day banned the possession of all handguns by all but a very few. More recently, the shooting in Cumbria, brought the calls for even more restrictions to be placed on legitimate firearms owners.
The recent release of a report by Her Majesties Inspector of Constabularies, HMIC, states that the country faces an ever increasing risk of mass shootings if their recommendations are not given serious consideration, and preferably implemented. The interesting thing is though, whilst most agree that the current system is at best disjointed, the current guidelines cover all aspects of ownership rather well. Therefore if you take the time to read the report HMIC Report you will be at a loss to see why the current guidelines are a cause for concern. The report uses the examples given earlier to illustrate that the current system is broken and needs drastic action to resolve the problem. The only trouble is that throughout the report the failings are not that of the guidelines, the shooting industry or the vast majority of shooters.
Time after time in the report attention is drawn to a number of constabularies, who for whatever reason, have failed to implement the current guidelines. The reports response to resolve these inadequacies and failure to follow the rules, apply more rules, and give the police powers unseen in this country for many years. In yet another attempt to push forward an agenda mentioned in previous post, HMIC propose the police have a statutory right of entry into firearms owners’ property. At present an appointment needs to made at a mutually convenient time, or, if there is evidence of a crime or domestic unrest, a warrant is required, which gives the police a right of entry. The NPCC proposed this, along with the “shop a gun owner” phone line. It cannot be a coincidence that both Stephen Otter and Andy Marsh have put forward near identical proposals to resolve what they perceive as problems with the current system.
Speaking as an owner of firearms and other lethal items, and answerable to a vehemently anti-gun police authority, who appear to employ firearms enquiry officers who only know and understand firearms from the authorities dictate, it is not surprising that the failures highlighted in HMIC report occur. Thankfully they are few and far between, and the over 1.5 million owners in the country use their firearms in a responsible manner. We as firearms owners have to prove a use or need to possess our firearms, yes even the shotguns, this was debated, politely, on the last time my application was granted, a typical case of an ill-informed FEO. So, why don’t we have FEO’s that are conversant with the guidelines, who understand firearms in a context outside of the criminal perspective usually proffered by the police?
Before the police are given, which hopefully they never will be, powers to enter properties without a warrant they should get their own house in order, ensure that the guidelines are followed by all their constabularies and officers. When, and only when they have succeeded in doing this, will we be able to tell if the current system is a defective as HMIC seem to think it is. Personally, I think they protest too much, and are trying to deflect as much criticism as possible onto those who are less able to defend themselves.