According to the recently released Firearm Certificate Statistics for 2002-03, the number of shotgun and firearm certificates in England & Wales have increased, by 26,450 shotgun certificates and 8,670 firearm certificates. Whether this is an indication of a new trend upwards in certificates or merely a lot of people scared off after Dunblane returning to the sport is unclear, but anecdotally, I do seem to run into new shooters quite frequently, which is a good sign. (Although I do think sometimes I am gate crashing a Catholic sermon, as I can’t seem to get quite as excited about shooting gallery rifles as new shooters do – but they have no experience of pistol shooting).
However, this is small potatoes compared to the situation in the Republic of Ireland, where the Gardai (Irish police) have been put under pressure by a couple of shooters seeking firearm certificates for a pistol and a 7.62mm calibre rifle – not allowed under a long-standing (since 1972) policy. As the court date approached, the Gardai threw in the towel, and have begun issuing firearm certificates for handguns and larger calibre rifles again. This is absolutely fantastic news for shooters in the Republic who have suffered under the most repressive firearms regime in the developed world for many years.
With the ban on handguns being lifted in Poland a few years ago, it also means that Great Britain is the only jurisdiction in Europe where handguns are banned. Doesn’t that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling? Sigh.
The Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) are threatening changes to the Firearms Acts there, however, so Irish shooters are not out of the woods yet. At the moment the proposed changes relate to penalties for firearm offences and secure storage requirements.
Postcomm Pat and his black & white policy
If it wasn’t bad enough that we have to deal with stupid Government policies, Royal Mail has been moaning to Postcomm (the post regulator) about guns (including toys) showing up in the post. Being fair-minded people they apparently want to change their carriage policy to ban the carriage of anything even vaguely firearm-related.
This is a truly serious threat to shooters in this country given how reluctant other carriers are to carry these items, and it would really help if as many shooters as possible make submissions to Postcomm about these proposed changes. Especially focus on relating experiences you may have had with other carriers. This is our submission. Don’t delay, as the consultation only lasts until March 14th.
“They’ll have to shoot me first to take my gun.” – Roy Rogers, commenting on the proposed ban of handguns in California in 1982.