GP faces legal tangle over replica gun

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The Independent Online
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A DRUNKEN drug addict burst through the surgery door and demanded a fix. The Stoke-on-Trent GP tried to look calm behind the desk; he knew the man had a reputation for violence.

'Let me just examine you,' he said, reaching for his black bag. He slowly took out his stethoscope - and then gave the addict an eye-full of his replica .38 Smith & Wesson.

The .38 he carries is just a precaution. He is a magistrate, so he knows the dangers facing a GP in the streets of Stoke at night.

But the Medical Defence Union is concerned. A spokesman said: 'If someone thinks you are carrying a gun they could be less likely to attack you, but they may be inclined to assault you more violently in a way that might incapacitate you.

'It is also possible that if a doctor pointed a replica firearm or waved it around it could be construed as affray which is a jailable offence.'

The doctor is defiant. 'I see no reason why I should stop carrying it. It gives me great confidence and safety.'

A Home Office spokesman said: 'Technically carrying a replica is not an offence. It is only when you're into the furtherance of a crime or trying to resist arrest that it's a crime. If you're using it as a deterrent . . . it would require some interpretation or clarification in a court case.'