Queen's Speech to ban all handguns

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The Independent Online
Pistol shooting as a British Olympic sport faces extinction this week when the Government announces plans to ban all firearms, including those of .22 calibre and below, write Stephen Castle and Mark Rowe.

The complete ban on handguns, which was backed by Labour after the Dunblane massacre last year, will be one of the central items in Wednesday's Queen's Speech.

Although the House of Commons will be offered a free vote on the issue, Labour's massive majority makes the demise of all pistol shooting almost inevitable.

Yesterday, shooting organisations confirmed that it will mean Britain will be unable to compete in shooting events at the Olympic Games, as well as the Commonwealth Games to be held in Manchester in 2002.

Graham Downing, spokes-man for the British Shooting Sports Council, the umbrella organisation for all shooting clubs in the country, said: "If a total ban comes in affecting all 57,000 gun holders we will be left with air pistols and then shooting as a competitive sport will be no more."

Ian McConchie, General Secretary of the National Pistol Association, which has 35,000 members, said that a total ban on handguns would have a "devastating effect" on people who enjoyed shooting as a recreational and competitive sport.

"Shooting is an established part of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games," he said. "Britain has always done well in these disciplines and that has brought prestige to the country."

Other measures in Wednesday's Queen's Speech include:

Incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

A Bill to set up a new authority for London with a city mayor.

Legislation to release local authority capital receipts to fund a home- building programme.

A social security anti-fraud Bill.