MPs take lecture on gun crime from Brighton professor

Posted On 29 Oct 2010 at 12:51 pm

A Brighton professor spelt out ways to cut gun crime when he gave evidence to a select committee of MPs this week.

Professor Peter Squires said that firearms and ammunition should be stored apart.

He said that allowing people to keep guns and bullets in their homes was exacerbating the problem of gun crime.

When both are stored in someone’s home, he said, the risk increased of misuse by owners or of the items being stolen.

German Doner Kebab

Professor Squires told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: “That’s the problem and we have to take it seriously.”

The Brighton University professor of criminology and public policy told MPs that farmers needing ammunition for pest control should order it like seed or fertilizer.

What wasn’t used should be returned.

And, he said, ammunition used in sport should be supplied and controlled at event venues.

Professor Squires said: “I have absolutely no problem with the responsible use of firearms in agriculture and sport.

“And I know people who have weapons like to keep them at home.”

But, he added: “I don’t think they should have large amounts of ammunition at home.”

Shooting spree

The select committee is reviewing firearms laws after Derrick Bird killed 12 people and wounded 11 others before killing himself in June.

His shooting spree follows similar incidents in Hungerford in 1987 and Dunblane in 1996.

Professor Squires said that all three atrocities were committed by people who owned firearms lawfully and used licensed weapons.

He told the committee: “I find it bizarre that in the wake of the Cumbria incident we should be seeing suggestions to loosen controls.

“It is quite perverse.”

He said that 14 per cent of gun killings were committed with licensed firearms.

Although some people argued that there was a clear difference between legal and illegal weapons, this was not the case.

He said: “I would go even further and say most gun crime in Britain is committed with weapons that are licensed or otherwise legal … these include air weapons.”

He acknowledged that there was opposition to tighter controls from people both inside and outside Parliament.

But he added: “On every occasion that the issue is discussed they come out to argue with the usual list of half-truths, confusing evidence and vested interest … I have studied this (subject) independently, as an academic.”

In his submission, Professor Squires said: “Britain undoubtedly also has a problem of urban gun crime, associated with (semi-)organised criminal groups, gangs and drug-dealing.

“Each time the question of gun safety arises, the British shooting lobbies (the Countryside Alliance, Gun Trade Association, British Association for Shooting and Conservation) make the argument that Britain’s real gun problem is not firearm misuse by (a largely law-abiding and responsible shooting fraternity) but urban street gangs and the like.

“This is not the full picture and my evidence was intended to convey this.”

To see and hear Professor Squires giving evidence to Parliament, go 24 minutes into the video using the following link to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee learning about gun crime

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