Letter: Need should not be the sole criterion for gun ownership

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The Independent Online
Sir: Does Bryan Appleyard ("Staring down the barrel of an American icon", 30 May) seriously believe that the dedication, commitment and sheer hard work involved in, say, top level target shooting is motivated by some kind of warped sense of power? He clearly cannot comprehend the drive which pushes sportsmen and women to give their absolute best in their chosen sport. The motives of those who strive to achieve the standard necessary to shoot for their clubs, their county or their country are no different from those of cricketers, hockey players or showjumpers.

I accept that I would be joining the ranks of the unbalanced if I were to claim that every club shooter spends his or her time focusing on competing successfully in ever higher levels of competition. There are weekend cricketers and sometime cricketers, just as there are weekend shooters and sometime shooters. However the bottom line is that Mr Appleyard clearly believes that need should be the sole criterion on which gun ownership is based, and that target shooting at any level does not represent such a need. If Lord Cullen takes that view, the fact - corrupt or otherwise - is that the armed crime statistics will remain unchanged (you report that there are 500,000 to 1 million illegal guns in circulation) and the possibility of another Dunblane will be reduced slightly but will still remain.

PHILIP NOWAK

Sayers Common, West Sussex

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