Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Britain wants its guns back

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

A Daily Telegraph online poll has revealed that over 80 percent of Brits would rather a repeal on the hand gun ban over various other “new law” choices

Article Via The Commentator

by The Commentator on 29 May 2013 Union_Jack

Last Friday the Daily Telegraph, Britain’s most widely read broadsheet newspaper, issued an online poll asking members of the public which proposal they would like to see introduced as a Private Members’ Bill in the UK’s Parliament.

Private Members’ Bills are introduced by Members of Parliament or Peers who are not government ministers.

The choices include term limits for Prime Ministers, a flat tax, a law to encourage the ‘greening’ of public spaces and the repealing of Britain’s hand gun ban. Following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, in which 16 schoolchildren were killed, Parliament passed The Firearms Act of 1997, which essentially banned handguns for the atrocity.

But Britons seem unconvinced by the law. The proposer, known as “Colliemum” asked, “…why should only criminals be ‘allowed’ to possess guns and shoot unarmed, defenceless citizens and police officers?”

While the poll continues, so far over 80 percent of the 11,000+ respondents have told the Telegraph that they want to see the handgun ban repealed. The news comes as America contemplates its own new laws on gun ownership, with British talk show host Piers Morgan claiming to back a UK-style ban for the United States.

While gun crime soared after the British ban in 1997, rates of gun violence have fallen, especially in British cities, following more spending by police forces into tackling gun crime. Police in England and Wales recorded 5,911 firearms offences in 2011/12, a reduction of 42 percent compared with nine years earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But statistics from the United States show that guns are used by citizens to defend themselves around eighty times more often than they are used to take a life. A recent study published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy concluded that there is a negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime in countries internationally, that is, “where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest.”

British versus American statistics perhaps displays nothing more than one country investing more in the government response to criminality, while the other maintains a citizen-based response.

Two other options were presented in the Telegraph poll, which were the closing of the child maintenance loophole and a banning of spitting in public. The full results as of 01:36am on Wednesday 29th May, can be seen on the right.

For an up to date look at the poll, click through to the Telegraph’s website, here.

UK Parliament – A Polite Mad Hatters Tea Party

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Original Story Via:

Firearms Controls

Grahame Morris (Easington, Labour)

I am grateful for the opportunity to raise this issue; I know that a number of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House are interested in this subject.

In the early hours of the new year, I was greeted in my constituency by the shocking news that four people had lost their lives in a shooting in the close-knit former mining community of Horden. They were Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and niece Tanya Turnbull, 24, as well as the gunman, Michael Atherton, 42, who turned the gun on himself.

Following the shooting, I called for a calm and measured response, but the high emotions at the time were not conducive to constructive debate. In the months that followed, I had the opportunity to meet family members on a number of occasions. They have acted in a considered and dignified manner throughout, and looked for practical improvements that will hopefully avoid such tragic circumstances, and such a tragedy, befalling another family.

A public debate on firearms licensing is still needed, and the time is right for the public and Parliament to consider whether the current level of protection is adequate. It is said that Britain has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world, but we should not be complacent. Current firearms laws consist of 34 separate pieces of legislation, which is complex and difficult to navigate for the police and the public. The Home Office’s official police guidance is more than 200 pages long. The rules are difficult to interpret, and their application can vary greatly across the 43 police forces responsible for issuing firearms licence certificates.

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Photo of Keith VazKeith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)rose —

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)I will give way to my right hon. Friend, the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee.

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Photo of Keith VazKeith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. He will know that it is two years since the Home Affairs Committee published its report on firearms control and suggested that the 34 pieces of legislation be codified. Does he agree that it is now time to bring those pieces of legislation together, and make it clearer for people who have applied for and received licences, and for those who seek to get one?

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)I am grateful for that intervention; it was delivered with some authority and I completely agree. The Home Affairs Committee investigation and report into firearms control urged the Government to codify and simplify the law, introduce one licensing system to cover all firearms, and strengthen the current safeguards.

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Photo of David TredinnickDavid Tredinnick (Bosworth, Conservative)I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for kindly giving me leave to intervene in his Adjournment debate. I wish to raise the issue of the Olympics, and the inability of our pistol team to train in the UK. Does he agree that although we must

consolidate the legislation and perhaps ensure that it works more effectively, we should go back to Lord Cullen’s original suggestion, which would allow gun clubs to keep disabled pistols, so that we can train Olympic athletes of the future in this country?

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting point and I will come to some suggestions about how we might address that issue.

The Association of Chief Police Officers firearms and explosives licensing working group has called for a single form of certificate that

“remains desirable for safety and economic reasons”.

In terms of public safety, and in contrast to a section 1 firearm, shotgun applicants are not required to demonstrate a good reason for wanting a shotgun. I believe it important that people demonstrate that they have a need or use for a firearm, before they are granted a licence.

In evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, Mrs Gill Marshall-Andrews of the Gun Control Network said:

“The starting point should be that guns are lethal weapons and the onus should be on the applicant, somebody who wants to own a gun, to prove that they are”

a fit person to have one.

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Photo of Ian MearnsIan Mearns (Gateshead, Labour)I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. The House should be concerned about firearms licences and licensees. Just after the summer, it was reported that no fewer than 3,000 legitimately owned and licensed firearms were reported lost, missing or stolen in the previous 12 months.

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)That alarming statistic is one of a number that should exercise the minds of hon. Members, and it adds weight to the need for a full public debate.

It should no longer be acceptable to have a shotgun without a good reason. A good reason would have to be demonstrated by the same criteria that current firearms certificate holders must meet. Good reasons for holding shotgun licences include dealing with vermin or game, target shooting at an approved venue or club, or for professional use in employment, but evidence is needed to justify those reasons. It is difficult for many, including me, to comprehend why someone would need access to firearms in a domestic setting when there is little need for immediate access to a weapon.

One of the greatest weaknesses identified by the shooting fraternity is the variation in standards across police forces. For that reason, a national licensing authority has been proposed to provide central oversight, and to ensure the consistent application of licensing procedures. Such an authority would also have the advantage of removing the police from the administrative aspect of firearms licensing, and will allow them instead to focus on the enforcement of gun controls. The financial burden of the licensing regime could also be removed from the police while ensuring that public safety remains paramount. In evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, Bedfordshire police presented a cost analysis that showed that the firearms application fees in place since 2000 never represented the true cost to the forces processing applications. Rather than the current firearms certificate fee of £50, a fee of £150 has been proposed. I am not advocating that—an appropriate fee could be determined by any new central licensing authority.

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Photo of Jim SheridanJim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Labour)I perhaps should know, so my hon. Friend might have to excuse my ignorance, but does the proposed legislation cover air guns, which can be just as dangerous?

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)There are concerns across the piece. Whether air guns are covered depends on the definition of air gun, but I hope to come to that in a few moments if my hon. Friend bears with me.

Public safety must be the primary aim of gun control legislation, but it is clear that the police, in view of significant budget cuts, can no longer afford to subsidise the licensing system. We heard in the debate a few moments ago of hon. Members’ concerns about 20% cuts in police budgets in their areas.

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Photo of Ian LaveryIan Lavery (Wansbeck, Labour)I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate, which is on an emotive point for him. Does he agree that all aspects of firearms control should be a major concern and top of the agenda for prospective police and crime commissioners?

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)My hon. Friend makes a good point. We are only a few weeks away from the elections for police and crime commissioners. I have discussed the issue with Ron Hogg, who is a PCC candidate in County Durham, and who has some expertise in the matter. It is important that this is a local priority, but I also suggest that we should have a national framework laying down guidelines—something stricter than guidelines, in fact—to be applied evenly. Part of the problem is that we have a patchwork of arrangements.

We cannot do firearms licensing on the cheap at the risk of compromising public safety. There is also a strong case for strengthening the link between the licensing authority and medical professionals when considering an application or a renewal of a firearms certificate. We need early and proactive intervention when a firearms holder’s mental and physical health deteriorates.

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Photo of Chris WilliamsonChris Williamson (Derby North, Labour)I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this important debate. Does he agree that public safety would be improved if a prohibition was placed on the private storage of firearms in people’s homes, if people with a firearms certificate were subject to an annual medical test to assess continually whether they were a fit and proper person to hold one, and if a public register was available so that the general public knew who had access to a firearm? The atrocities that we see are often committed by people who have been deemed a fit and proper person when originally given a firearms certificate.

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)That is a good point well made.

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Photo of Karl McCartneyKarl McCartney (Lincoln, Conservative)Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)I will respond to the last intervention, and then I will take another one. I do not intend to declare war on the armed wing of the Tory party. I am not opposed to shooting per se. I am saying that people should be able to demonstrate a clear legitimate need before a firearms certificate or shotgun licence is issued.

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Photo of Karl McCartneyKarl McCartney (Lincoln, Conservative)I commend the hon. Gentleman for some of the points he has raised, but I find the naivety of the previous intervention worrying, because producing a public register of those who own any sort of firearm might be a thief’s charter. I would like to know what experience of shooting or holding a firearm or shotgun licence he has.

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)I have no experience. I have never held or shot a gun, but I have experience of a terrible tragedy in my constituency on new year’s day. I am attempting to share my experience with Members and to advocate having a review in the interests of public safety.

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Photo of Jim ShannonJim Shannon (Strangford, DUP)I thank the hon. Gentleman for the balanced way he is approaching this subject. I am concerned that the focus seems to be on legitimate firearms holders, the majority of whom are law-abiding. Will he reassure sporting Members and others throughout our local communities who enjoy the sport that this debate is not going down the road to remove firearms from those who have a legitimate right to hold them?

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Photo of Grahame MorrisGrahame Morris (Easington, Labour)I hope I have made that point. I am not proposing that people with a legitimate need to hold firearms, such as farmers and so on—there is a whole list of such people—are not allowed to hold them. That need should be declared as a reason for holding a certificate, and the police or the licensing authority would take it into account.

In a case in my constituency in 2008, Michael Atherton had his weapons revoked following threats to self-harm, and issues relating to mental health and gun ownership were also a factor in the case of Christopher Foster, who shot his wife, his daughter and himself after confessing suicidal thoughts to his GP.

I understand that the Association of Chief Police Officers and the British Medical Association have an agreement whereby the police alert GPs to any new applications and renewals of firearms licences. However, concerns remain where an applicant fails to disclose full and accurate medical information at the time of application or renewal. Applicants are required to provide a number of medical details, including whether they suffer from any

“medical condition or disability including alcohol and drug…conditions”.

They also have to declare whether they have ever suffered from epilepsy or been treated for

“depression or any other kind of mental or nervous disorder”.

However, that information is not routinely checked. Licensing officers approach medical professionals only when there are doubts about an applicant’s medical history, although Dr John Canning—again, giving evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on behalf of the BMA—stated that GPs are “not very often” asked to provide medical evidence, although it happens “from time to time”.

Following the case of Christopher Foster, the Independent Police Complaints Commission proposed in 2008 that the licensing force should be required to approach the applicant’s doctor in each case, in order to obtain confirmation that the medical information provided

in the application was correct. The omission of information from a firearms application was also an issue in the case of Mark Saunders in 2006, which ended in him being killed by the Metropolitan police. Mr Saunders failed to declare during the application process that he had been treated by a consultant for depression and for his tendency occasionally to drink more than was sensible—indeed, he had been referred by his GP. Unfortunately, on his application for a firearms licence he stated that he had no such health problems.

In my view, the solution is to ensure that each applicant knows that licensing officers will approach their GP as a matter of course to verify statements made on their application about their health, to ensure they are correct and accurate. My proposal would address failures by an applicant to disclose any medical problem that raises questions about their suitability to own and have free access to a firearm. Finally, I call for greater consultation between the licensing authority and those who are or have been a domestic partner of a potential applicant. A similar system is already in place in Canada, where all citizens applying for a firearms licence are required to have their present and past partners in the previous two years sign their application. Refusal to sign for any reason does not automatically mean that the police and licensing authorities will veto an application, but it will trigger further investigation by law enforcement officers. The Canadian requirements merit further exploration, and I would appreciate it if the Minister informed the House of any progress made on this matter.

There has been no knee-jerk reaction. These proposals are considered, practical measures that, if implemented, could allow the consistent application of firearms legislation, strengthen existing safeguards and ensure public safety while maintaining the rights of the shooting fraternity to have access to firearms where there is a good and legitimate purpose for their use.

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7:38 pm
Photo of Damian GreenDamian Green (Ashford, Conservative)I congratulate Grahame M. Morris both on securing the debate and on the tone in which he has addressed this issue, following the tragic events in his constituency. The shootings he talked about shocked the whole country. Obviously our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the victims. I agree with him: it is right that Government and Parliament should reflect on what lessons might be learned from these fortunately rare, but nevertheless tragic events, and how best we can protect public safety. I and the whole House—indeed, it is good to see so many people at an Adjournment debate—share his view that we need to approach the issues in a calm and measured way.

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, Durham constabulary has asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate the events leading to the shootings. There has not yet been a coroner’s inquest into the deaths. Because of the investigation and a future inquest, the House will appreciate the need for me to avoid saying anything that might be prejudicial in relation to the circumstances of this case.

I understand that there have been complexities with the IPCC investigation, although it is working through those matters as fast as possible and the investigation is

now close to completion. The final report is now being finalised and it will be shared with the families shortly. Publication of the report will, however, depend on the time scales for the inquest and the wishes of the coroner. The Government will consider carefully the results of the inquest and of the IPCC investigation, paying careful attention to any specific recommendations that they might make and any implications for wider firearms policy, to which I will now turn as I try to address the specific points that the hon. Gentleman has raised.

The Government have always made it clear that controls on firearms should be targeted fairly and proportionately, and that they should strike the right balance by securing public safety without bearing down unnecessarily on legitimate users. With this in mind, I have arranged meetings with a range of stakeholders since assuming responsibility for this work. I met Deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on firearms, this week, and we discussed a number of the issues that the hon. Gentleman has raised today.

Following the tragic shootings in Cumbria in 2010, the Government undertook to take a fresh look at firearms law and subsequently considered the recommendations of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which looked comprehensively at the whole range of issues. The Government published our response to the Committee’s report in September 2011. Our response sets out a number of commitments in response to the Committee’s recommendations. The Government will update the Committee, and the House, shortly on progress on those recommendations.

As the hon. Gentleman has said, it is generally recognised that the UK has comparatively low levels of gun crime, and some of the strictest gun laws in the world. It is true that these laws are complex, and I would therefore like to give a brief overview of the main controls that are in place. There are two main categories of firearms licensed by the police. First, there are those that are controlled under section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968. They are typically target shooting rifles and rifles used for hunting or vermin control. The second category is shotguns, typically used by farmers and for clay pigeon shooting. Both are possessed by means of separate certificates that are valid for five years. There is a third category of firearm, generally referred to as prohibited weapons, and these can be possessed only with the written authority of the Secretary of State.

My hon. Friend David Tredinnick raised the issue of training for Olympic pistol shooters. In advance of the London games, the Home Secretary provided an exemption for this third category of firearms to allow the Team GB shooting team to train here. She is currently in the process of issuing new authorities to British pistol squad members to train for the 2014 Commonwealth games. This is of course subject to the usual checks on applicants and to ensuring that training is confined to suitably secure ranges. The Government will look at arrangements for the 2016 Olympic games in due course.

The hon. Member for Easington raised concerns about how the licensing process operates. I would like to say something about the processes involved—again, without making reference to the specific circumstances of this case. The procedures are similar for the issue of a shotgun certificate but there are some material differences.

First and foremost, the police must be satisfied that the applicant can be trusted to possess shotguns without danger to public safety. Unlike with section 1 firearms, the applicant does not have to show good reason to have a shotgun, but the police may refuse to grant a certificate if they are satisfied that he has no good reason to have one. This is a different control, but it still allows the police to refuse applicants who have dubious reasons for wanting shotguns.

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Photo of Ian MearnsIan Mearns (Gateshead, Labour)I raised a point with my hon. Friend Grahame M. Morris about the number of firearms that have been lost or stolen in the past year. I understand that the figure was about 3,000. In the light of that, would the people who have lost their firearms or had them stolen have their licences reviewed?

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Photo of Damian GreenDamian Green (Ashford, Conservative)That would be a matter for the individual force concerned. It is clearly a matter that the police forces that do the licensing, who are responsible and sensitive about these things, would take serious note of.

The hon. Member for Easington mentioned national control of firearms and the proposal for a national licensing authority. There is a danger that a central authority might lose touch with the sort of local information that the police need. In his report on the Dunblane tragedy, Lord Cullen recommended that licensing functions should remain with the police. Previous suggestions to replace the current police licensing system with a central civilianised licensing authority have been rejected as more costly and less efficient than the present system.

Although the Government are not in favour of a national firearms control board, the Home Office guidance to the police on firearms legislation—the hon. Gentleman mentioned it, and it is indeed long and complex—is being revised and updated to help ensure that licensing procedures are applied consistently across forces. This is an important piece of work, responding directly to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s wish for more consistency. In particular, we will highlight the need to take full account of any incidences of domestic violence when considering applications for the

grant or renewal of certificates. The comments that I have heard this evening will be particularly pertinent to that.

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Photo of Tessa MuntTessa Munt (Wells, Liberal Democrat)Does the Minister agree that cost is not an issue here? Where people use firearms for recreation, there is no excuse whatever for the process to be subsidised. It is not a matter of cost; it is purely a matter of process—and the costs should be covered by those who require a licence.

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Photo of Damian GreenDamian Green (Ashford, Conservative)The ultimate driver, frankly, is safety; that is what underlies the system. On the issue of cost, the Home Office has received a detailed report from ACPO proposing new firearms fees to allow forces to recover the cost of firearms licensing. In considering the proposal, the Government will look both at the quality of service licence holders receive, which is relevant, and will discuss with ACPO the scope for making some of the current processes more efficient and effective. That will take into account the need to manage risk and ensure public protection.

As we indicated in our response to the Select Committee, we do not consider that separate licensing for shotguns and firearms is causing difficulties. Applying a good reason test in the same way for both categories could be problematic. For example, unlike target shooters, shotgun owners do not always belong to clubs that could vouch that they had shot regularly. However, I assure the House that we will keep this issue under review. As I indicated earlier, the local police must satisfy themselves that an applicant for a certificate is fit to be entrusted with a firearm, and will not present a danger to public safety. This is a particularly heavy responsibility and sits right at the heart of the licensing process. Such is the basis of my discussions with ACPO.

One of the most important points raised by the hon. Gentleman was about the need for medical checks on those who have access to firearms. I completely agree that it is important that the police are made aware of medical conditions that affect a person’s suitability to possess firearms. Both the hon. Gentleman and I will therefore—

House adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 9(7)).

Group petitions W.H. Smith to not treat gun magazines as pornography

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

IAPCAR recently covered this story here and the response from W.H. Smith here.

To view or sign the online petition click on the following link:


Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Original Story Via:

The International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) denounced a change in policy by the British book store W.H. Smith to now treat hunting and self-defense publications featuring guns the same as pornography.

Julianne Versnel of IAPCAR and SAF this week at the UN Conference of Parties meeting in Vienna Austria.

Even though youngsters under the new age requirement are permitted to hold a shotgun license, W.H. Smith’s new policy bans legitimate self-defense and hunting publications from young people under 14-years-old. The new policy also requires the purchaser show identification to purchase the magazines the same as they require for the purchase of pornography.

The new policy was backed by a group called Animal Aid, Britain’s largest “animal rights” organization. Among other beliefs, the group clams in one of its own reports that “lurid, pro-violence content” of the country’s shooting sports magazines could have a “corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds.”

IAPCAR executive director Philip Watson denounced the store’s policy.

“Clearly this store is allowing itself to be governed by a fringe group,” Watson said. “There is no legitimate proof that censorship like this will improve a youngster’s understanding of gun safety, or self-defense and hunting. In fact, I think it will probably have the opposite effect.”

“The fact that youngsters under the age requirement to purchase these publications are permitted to license a shotgun outlines the stupidity of this new rule,” Watson concluded.

“A parent has an obligation to educate their children about the use of firearms. As a mother and gun owner, I am offended that publications about self-defense, target shooting, or hunting are being treated as pornography,” added IAPCAR Co-Founder Julianne Versnel.

The International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights ( is the only worldwide political action group focusing on the human right to keep and bear arms. Founded in 2010, IAPCAR has grown to 23 major gun-rights organizations and conducts campaigns designed to inform the public and promote the right of self-defense and gun-ownership.

UK Judge to burglars: Being shot is a ‘chance you take’

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Original Story Via:

A judge has told two burglars permanently injured when they were shot by a homeowner: “That is the chance you take.”

Judge Michael Pert QC jailed Joshua O’Gorman and Daniel Mansell for four years each after rejecting a plea that he take the shooting into account.

O’Gorman and Mansell, who have a string of convictions between them, were blasted with a legally-owned shotgun by Andy Ferrie as they attempted to ransack his isolated farm cottage in the early hours of September 2.

O’Gorman, who was shot in the face, and Mansell, who was hit in his right hand, had pleaded guilty to the break-in in Welby, near Melton Mowbray, at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing them at Leicester Crown Court, the judge said: “I make it plain that, in my judgment, being shot is not mitigation. If you burgle a house in the country where the householder owns a legally held shotgun, that is the chance you take. You cannot come to court and ask for a lighter sentence because of it.”

He was responding to a mitigation plea from Andrew Frymann, representing O’Gorman, who said being shot was for his client akin to a “near-death experience” for which he was not prepared. His injuries left him with blurred vision, severe pain and problems with his balance.

Replying to Mr Frymann’s suggestion that O’Gorman was traumatised, Judge Pert said the arrest of Mr and Mrs Ferrie on suspicion of grievous bodily harm could be considered just as disturbing. He said: “Some might argue that being arrested and locked up for 40 hours is a trauma.”

Mr Ferrie, 35, and his wife Tracey, 43, were held in custody for nearly two days after Mr Ferrie called police to tell them he fired his shotgun at the intruders. Their arrests prompted widespread criticism. The couple were later bailed and told they would not face criminal charges.

Mansell, 33, and O’Gorman, 27, both from Leicester but with no fixed addresses, appeared in the court dock each wearing a grey sweatshirt and showing physical evidence of the confrontation. A scar was clearly visible on the right side of O’Gorman’s face and Mansell had his arm in a sling.

Commenting after sentencing, a spokesman for Leicestershire Police said: “The decision made by the Crown Prosecution Service, after reviewing all the evidence, was to take no further action against the homeowners involved. We are unable to comment any further as we have an ongoing investigation with three men currently on police bail.”

Farm tenant arrested after burglars shot, was ‘plagued by break-ins’ (UK)

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Original Story Via:  The Telegraph


A farm tenant and his wife who were arrested after two suspected burglars were shot at their isolated home had been the victims of a number of robberies.

The man is believed to have grabbed a legally owned gun after they were disturbed by the break-in early yesterday.

He is understood to have fired at the intruders who then fled the isolated house at Melton Mowbray, Leics, before calling the police.

Minutes later, an ambulance was called to treat a man with gunshot injuries nearby. It is understood that call was made by one of the suspected burglars.

The arrested man’s mother said: “This is not the first time they have been broken into.

“They have been robbed three or four times. One of them was quite nasty.

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“They have not been injured but property has been stolen.”

Local farmers said the area has been increasingly targeted by car thieves.

One said: “We had three Land Rovers stolen. We had fitted one with a tracker and it was recovered in Birmingham.”

A second man was later treated for gunshot injuries after arriving at Leicester Royal Infirmary, 10 miles from the scene of the shooting. Neither of the men is said to be seriously injured.

Yesterday the businessman and his wife were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. Four men, understood to be the suspected burglars, were also arrested.

The case will reignite the debate over a householder’s right to defend his property, which began in the late 1990s after the farmer Tony Martin shot two burglars at his remote Norfolk home. In 1999, Martin fired at Brendan Fearon, 29, and Fred Barras, 16, after they broke into the house in Emneth Hungate.

Three shots were fired, Barras was hit in the back and despite escaping through a window died moments later. Martin was convicted of murder and jailed for life, which was reduced on appeal to manslaughter and five years’ jail.

In 2009, the millionaire businessman Munir Hussain fought back with a metal pole and a cricket bat against a knife-wielding burglar who tied up his family at their home in Buckinghamshire. Hussain was jailed for two and a half years, despite his attacker being spared prison.

Appeal judges reduced the sentence to a year’s jail, suspended.

The case prompted David Cameron to announce that home owners and shopkeepers would have the right to protect themselves against burglars and robbers.

Last year, Peter Flanagan, 59, who fatally stabbed a burglar armed with a machete at his home in Salford, Great Manchester, escaped prosecution after the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that he was acting in self defence.

Yesterday the Melton Mowbray cottage was sealed off by police. Welby Grange Farm is owned by John Hobill, 84, and his wife Evelyn, 76, and is the registered address for JT and RT Hobill, which lists itself as a farming business.

A woman who answered the phone said they were “not allowed” to talk about the incident. She said the cottage was privately rented and the incident was nothing to do with the family that owned the farm. She said the person living there was not a farmer.

A Leicestershire Police spokesman said: “A 35-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman were arrested in Melton on suspicion of GBH and four men, aged 27, 23, 31 and 33, were arrested at Leicester Royal Infirmary on suspicion of aggravated burglary.” All remain in custody.

Continuous drip-drip of distorted gun-related news reporting

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Derek Bernard

6th September 2012

During the afternoon of Wednesday, 5th September, a British family were attacked in their car while on holiday in France, near Chevaline. The 3 adults were shot to death, together with a cyclist, while 2 little girls in the car survived the attack.

Many of the news reports attempt to link the event to the strictness, or lack of it, of gun control in France.

For instance, Henry Samuel, Daily Telegraph, 5th September 2012, included the following:

“France has one of the highest levels of civilian gun ownership in Europe, with far more relaxed gun laws than the UK.

Handguns, semi-automatic weapons and pump-action shotguns are legal if held by active gun club members who must have a licence for them and undergo a medical check.”

As with virtually everything uttered by governments, police and the media on the subject of gun control, gun ownership and criminal violence, the purported linkage has no connection to reality. But this constant, almost subliminal, flow of distortion maintains and strengthens the fearful fantasy that guns, in and of themselves, are dangerous, nasty things that will turn ordinary, non-violent people into criminals and ordinary criminals into murderers.

This fantasy is what drives the European love of complex, expensive, slow and inconvenient gun control procedures, such as gun registration.

In 2007 the Harvard Journal on Law & Public Policy published an article by 2 of the world’s leading researchers, Professor Gary Mauser and lawyer Don Kates. It contained this interesting paragraph:

“One statistic stands out: There are 9 European nations which have less than 5,000 guns per 100,000 population and 7 that have more than 15,000 guns. The average murder rate of the 9 low-gun ownership nations is 3 times higher than the murder rate of the 7 high gun ownership nations. That is apparently because nations w/ high murder rates adopt stringent gun laws, but these don’t work, so high murder rates come to coincide w/ low gun ownership.”

I don’t expect it to be published, but I have sent the following letter to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph:

Dear Sir,

It was very disappointing to read your correspondent, Henry Samuel (5th/6th September), attempting to link the laxity or otherwise of French gun control laws with the murder of a family of British tourists.

French gun laws are not “relaxed”. Like the UK’s they are complex, expensive and highly anti-social in their effects. In addition to their negative effects on sport, pest control, hunting, manufacture and distribution, as well as police efficiency, they, just as in the UK, disarm honest victims.

Does Mr Samuel think that these killers, who clearly wanted to kill every witness to whatever they were up to, went to the “relaxed” French police and asked if they could have a gun or two as they had some murders to commit?

Yours faithfully,

Derek Bernard