The new year begins with yet more evidence that the handgun ban was a futile waste of time, courtesy of Criminal Statistics for England & Wales. The latest edition covers the period from March 1999 to March 2000.
To cut a long story short, there has been a sharp increase in firearm-related offences, especially with handguns.
There is however a lot of interesting stuff in these statistics. For example table 3.12 indicates that 142 handguns were stolen from residential premises 1999-2000. As very few handguns can be legally kept at home now and this figure is not dramatically lower than years when they were legal, it supports the argument shooters made that most stolen guns were illegally held to begin with.
Also, table 3.10 on locations of armed robberies.
Robberies at banks and building societies have fallen, no doubt because of target hardening, but offences on public highways and at shops have increased sharply.
The figures in 3.13 show that there are a lot of prosecutions for illegal handgun possession, you can see this because from 1997 (when handguns were banned) the offences under Section 1 fall sharply and under Section 5 they rise sharply.
Table 3.8 indicates that there were no fatal injuries caused with an airgun in the period 1999/2000, which doesn’t lend support to the calls for licensing them.
The figures in table 3.6 show that shotguns and handguns were about as equally dangerous when fired, which totally blows the Home Office position out of the water that they presented at the Dunblane Public Inquiry in 1996 that handguns are more dangerous than shotguns.
Table 3D shows clearly that the overwhelming majority of homicides committed with firearms are with illegally held firearms (but not broken down by type, unfortunately).
I’m sure there is more that can be extracted from this information.
For what it’s worth, my opinion is that the rate of firearm-related crime is rising because of the complete shambles the Government has made of the Metropolitan Police. Moving members of the flying squad out to “share their experience” has not worked and efforts aimed at stopping armed criminals appear to be dropping off. Looking at the figures that accompany these statistics I was struck by the fact that the decline in firearm-related offences appears to bottom out in 1997 (when Labour came to power) and then rise sharply.
Essentially what shooters have been saying has now been proved beyond doubt, i.e. that the handgun ban was politically motivated drivel intended to encourage voters to vote for Labour, backed up with limp-wristed so-called “criminology”, which has now for all intents and purposes collapsed under the weight of the outrageous lie we knew it to be.
The taxpayer-funded police thinktank, the erroneously named: “Association of Chief Police Officers”, has submitted evidence to the Firearms Consultative Committee that .50 BMG calibre rifles and long-barrelled revolvers should be banned using an order under Section 1(4) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988. This section allows the Secretary of State to make an order, subject to approval by Parliament, to ban firearms if they were not available in significant numbers prior to the Act and are “specially dangerous”.
Obviously handguns of any type are not specially dangerous as clearly shown by table 3.6 of the statistics referred to above, and how anyone could claim that a revolver fitted with an 18-inch barrel is any more deadly than an ordinary revolver is beyond me. Long-barrelled revolvers have been around since the 1880s, so it seems unlikely an order under Section 1(4) could be legal. ACPO are apparently in a mood because we found a way to carry on shooting handguns despite the ban. That there are other ways to do that if long-barrelled revolvers are banned doesn’t seem to have occurred to them.
The use of .50 BMG rifles in armed crime in Great Britain is non-existent, and in Northern Ireland they have been used on rare occasions but only with armour-piercing ammunition that is prohibited in the UK under Section 5(1A) of the Firearms Act 1968. That they are powerful firearms is beyond question, but “specially dangerous” with ordinary lead or mild steel core ammunition? Not really. In any event, there are only two ranges I know of in GB where they can be shot by civilians, which makes it next to impossible to show a “good reason” to own one. This is a solution searching desperately for a problem.
Haven’t ACPO got anything better to do than harass responsible shooters? They would be better named the Association to Create Petty Offences!
I strongly urge you to write to the FCC at the Home Office, 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AT to protest this pointless attempt to destroy perfectly legitimate target shooting sports.
The SA80 saga continues, unfortunately
You really have to wonder about what goes on in Whitehall sometimes.
Not content with throwing away £100 million on the handgun ban, the Ministry of Defence wants to get in on the action by throwing away £80 million on a refurbishment effort for the L85A1 rifle and L86A1 Light Support Weapon that will entail sending 200,000 of them over to Heckler and Koch in Oberndorf, Germany, to be completely rebuilt.
So many parts will be replaced under this refurbishment programme that it is actually simpler to list the parts that won’t be replaced: the sights, the trigger mechanism housing (sans buttplate and pistol grip) and possibly the upper receiver shell, although that is open to question. Everything else, barrel, bolt, gas system, furniture, even the magazines, will be replaced to give us the L85A2 and L86A2.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and suggest that the guns won’t be better afterwards, but you have to wonder at the logic of going to such great lengths to essentially replace 200,000 guns with 200,000 unproven guns, when there are plenty of other alternatives. It would have been much easier to simply have bought the H&K G36 assault rifle off the shelf. In talking with the MoD it became apparent to me that they don’t even know what the G36 is, despite City of London Police being armed with them!
That the SA80 is despised by the troops is patently obvious, going merely by the response to my review of it on this website. Whether an expenditure of £80 million will restore confidence in it is doubtful.
It is utterly apparent that my views are shared, albeit privately, by pretty much anyone else in the MoD likely to ever have to shoot a gun in anger. Want proof? The MoD has recently acquired some £2.2 million plus worth of Diemaco C8 SFW carbines and C7A1s for special forces troops, this is in addition to the C7 rifles already used by grenadiers with M203s.
Now, if we’re going to arm the units of the armed forces most likely to see action with a completely different small arm, why not arm all of them with it, especially seeing as a Diemaco rifle is actually less expensive than the refit will cost?
You might care to make this point in a letter to your MP. He or she will probably be fobbed off with some stupid letter from the MoD saying that information on special forces is classified, this is an absolute cop out and you should let your MP know that. This is one time when shooters can stop a complete waste of taxpayer money and we should do it, now.
New guidance on antiques
Those nice people at the Home Office have come up with new guidance on antique firearms held under the provisions of Section 58(2) of the Firearms Act 1968, if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader you can click here to read it.
The march in March
Time to don your best slogans and march through London, yes it’s time for the next Countryside Alliance march. I know some of you might not like fox hunting much but believe me, what’s left of shooting is next up for the chop if we sit here and do nothing. Plus it is a way to let the Government know that handgun shooters will not be forgotten after we were scapegoated in 1997. More information is available on the Countryside Alliance website.
Oh yes, and have a Happy New Year!