Letter: Ban on guns is not the answer

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The Independent Online
Ban on guns is not the answer

Sir: The firearms (Amendment) Bill has reached its committee stage ("Major heads for a dangerous victory on guns", 18 November). We believe it is an illogical, media-led response to a complex issue. It will not work because it does not address the key problem - spree killing and its causes. Nevertheless, the bill risks lulling the public into a false sense of security. It will also dislocate the lives of tens of thousands of sportsmen and women.

If Parliament is serious about addressing firearms crime, there are sensible steps to take, such as focusing police resources on violent criminals, creating a national firearms control board and doing something to stop the influx of black-market weapons into this country, the number of which is growing as a result of EU frontier changes, the break-up of the Soviet Union and, not least, the drugs trade.

The policing failure at Dunblane also warrants deeper study. Thomas Hamilton was investigated seven times without action being taken against him. Section 30 of the 1968 Firearms Act would have allowed for the removal of his certificate.

A simplistic ban on one type of gun - the focus of the Firearms Bill - is not the answer. The bill as it stands is theatre. It ignores Lord Cullen's advice and, most worryingly, sets a precedent for legislation which shuns objective evidence and glorifies the irrational. It scapegoats more than a million ordinary people for the crimes of one evil man. It will be the poorest of memorials to his victims.



The Sportsman's Association

Shrewsbury, Shropshire