Readers' letters - July 5
License rise is good news
It is neither a ‘shock’ nor ‘concerning’ the number of firearms licences issued is rising in the Greater Manchester Police area, as written in your article ‘Three-year high for gun licenses’ (Evening Post, June 29).
In fact, it should be celebrated – more people participating in an Olympic sport that will be on our screens throughout Rio 2016 is great news, as is more people getting active in the countryside.
Yvonne Fovargue MP states that she supported “measures to enshrine in law a clear principle that those with a history of domestic or sexual violence, substance abuse or serious mental health problems should not be allowed a gun”.
These principles are already enshrined in our licensing process, which is one of the most stringent in the world. Gun crime statistics are not only very low, but also show that where crime does occur it has little to do with legally-held firearms. Recently introduced ongoing medical screening for licence-holders has improved an already exceptionally robust system, so it is entirely unclear why Yvonne Fovargue believes it is “the licensing system is not working as well as it should”.
Unfortunately, this article is unbalanced to the point of being misleading. Speaking to some of the 11,000 licence holders in the Greater Manchester area would reveal both the rigour of the licensing process they have all undergone, and the many positive aspects of legal firearm ownership.
Head of Shooting Campaigns
Don’t slur gun owners
I am writing to express my disappointment in the piece headed ‘Three-year high for gun licenses’ (Evening Post, June 29).
Firstly, both firearms certificates and shotgun certificates are valid for five years, so there are natural peaks and troughs in demand, just as there are for passports etc. The article only mentions three years of data and draws some scaremongering conclusions that are not there.
According to the article, a section 7 is required to renew a FAC/SGC. This is wholly inaccurate, a section 7 is issued when the existing license has expired to allow legal possession of the guns while awaiting a new certificate, generally when the licensing department have not processed renewals in time – I suppose not as interesting as a story.
A recent change in legislation means markers are put on the medical records of all firearms holders, so any change in their medical status which could present a risk to the public is immediately picked up. FAC/SGC holders are already constantly monitored with regards to anything that calls your good character into question, such as drink driving, domestic violence etc.
In my lifetime I have known of incidents involving legal firearms being used to commit crimes, and the fact we can all list Hungerford, Dunblane etc by name must demonstrate how rare these incidents are? I am aware these were all preceded by failures of the relevant authorities which could have prevented them under the legislation already in place at the time.
You can change the law as much as you like, but if the authorities fail to act on it surely blame lies with them?
Incidents involving legally held firearms are at a minuscule level, especially compared to the illegal ones, but the media seems determined to blame us for the ills of society at large. Organisations like BASC will gladly speak to you and help interpret the data in a way that wouldn’t have the slapdash nature of this piece.