The subject of firearms control, or ‘gun politics’ as it referred to in the US, is often contentious. In this country most accept the need for comprehensive weapons control. UK police officers are not routinely armed, although the recent introduction of marksmen on motorbikes in London and armed officers at many public locations have made gun-carrying police more visible.
Legislation is strict and consequences of a conviction are severe, with mandatory and minimum custodial sentences. Handguns were effectively banned after the Dunblane massacre in 1996 – the UK’s first and only school shooting. Members of the public may own sporting rifles and shotguns, subject to licensing, but pistols and the sale of realistic imitation firearms are banned. Even some toy guns are strictly controlled.
£14.95, Quiller Publishing Ltd
I was aware of the US constitutional right to bear arms but this book makes the additional point that in this country there is a right to have a firearm certificate as the law states ‘a certificate shall be issued subject to conditions’. The US constitutional position developed from England’s 17th century Bill of Rights and Declaration of Rights, which restated the right to have weapons. It was felt that an armed population was more difficult for a tyrannical ruler to overpower. It was only the proliferation of weapons following the Napoleonic wars and the increase in numbers of disaffected ex-servicemen, reduced to begging, that led to gun control.
Harriman is a leading arms specialist and courtroom expert. He appears on the BBC Antiques Roadshow. Published on behalf of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, it is written for the specialist sportsperson but will be of general interest to a wider readership and useful for solicitors, criminal practitioners in particular.
A comprehensive overview of the law is followed by excellent advice on security. It covers applying for certificates, dealing with police, shotguns and rifles, antiques and the relevance of medical conditions. Although this is a specialist publication, it will be useful to many solicitors and people interested in sports and the countryside.
David Pickup is a partner at Pickup and Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury