Firearms laws could cause chaos at 2012 Olympics

Firearms laws could cause chaos at 2012 Olympics

• Europeans miss Dorset clay pigeon event over permits
• London organisers want accreditation to double as permit

London 2012’s shooting event is heading for chaos because of Britain’s draconian firearms legislation for athletes from European countries. Some European teams have been unable to compete at a clay pigeon World Cup event in Dorset this week after failing to lodge original certificates of firearms permits with UK police long in advance.

Without having that paperwork in their possession several athletes would be in breach of their national laws to hold their firearms at home. They have also been unable to travel after they waited four to six weeks for the documentation to be handled. Indeed, in order to guarantee German athletes’ participation, that nation’s administrator was flown in to the UK by tournament officials – at a cost of £1,500 to the event – with a sheaf of athletes’ documentation for on-the-spot processing by police.

Perversely the law states that competitors from non-European Union nations need send only a copy of their certificates and, in cases where no official national registration system exists, a letter of permission from police departments suffices.

The event organiser, Peter Underhill, who is also manager of the shooting tournament at the London Olympics, told Digger: “This situation has arisen with only 350 competitors. It would take the Metropolitan Police a year to process the 2,000 people at the Olympics. We want the Home Office to relax arrangements, to tie in an athlete’s visitor’s firearm permit with the accreditation so it acts as an import licence for the firearm.” So far the Home Office has shown no enthusiasm for the request.

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