back to article Be nice to the public, PC Plod. Especially if you're trying to stop terrorists

Terrorism. A word which strikes fear, or quite possibly boredom, into the hearts of millions across the Western world. Add “terrorism” to “guns” and you've got a legitimate area of public concern. But what do you do when the police, acting with the best of intentions, repeatedly insert their collective feet into their mouths? …

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Somebody please tell me what the odds are of me being shot by either a "terrorist", "extremist" or a common-or-garden mental case.

I would hazard a guess I'm more likely to be shot by a cop.

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"I would hazard a guess I'm more likely to be shot by a cop."

Not in the UK. In the noughties we had around 90 gun related killings a year, that's now dropped to around 50 a year. And the police shoot and kill an average of two people a year (both guilty and innocent). Of course things may be different if you're one of our rebellious colonials.

So it you're about twenty five times more likely to be killed by a criminal or loon than by a policeman.

http://www.citizensreportuk.org/reports/murders-fatal-violence-uk.html

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I would hazard a guess I'm more likely to be shot by a cop

"So it you're about twenty five times more likely to be killed by a criminal or loon than by a policeman."

How many people are killed each year by members of their own family rather than criminals or loons? I suspect a lot.

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Anonymous Coward

Durrrr

downvoted because Roos K specifically said terrorists not criminals (and if not legally, practically there is a difference).

You are more likely to be killed by a policeman than a terrorist in the UK. Unless the terrorists can up their stats.

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You seem to have a funny definition of "criminals or loons"

John Arthur asks: "How many people are killed each year by members of their own family rather than criminals or loons? I suspect a lot."

So you think people who kill members of their own family are NOT criminals or loons? That's funny; personally, I'd be inclined to classify people who do that as at least one or the other; probably both.

Or would you say killing your family is a mark of mental health?!?

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Pint

"...a mark of mental health..."

Many (all?) debaters on this topic fail to consider the unfortunate fact that a given person could be perfectly sane, right up until the day when they're not. Or perhaps more commonly, they start out perfectly sane, but then follow a long slow trajectory towards madness (such slow downward spirals can be mistaken for the widespread irritability of late middle age).

So all this chatter about "preventing lunatics from obtaining guns" fails to address the other case:

People already with guns waking up crazy.

This point is a vast chasm of missingness from the debate. I can't offer easy solutions, but I do suggest that this point at least be added to the agenda.

At the very least, it'll be entertaining to see the reaction of those whose future sanity is being questioined.

Thing is, it applies to a gun-carrying police too. Do they have a morning madness test before allowing the up-to-then sane officer sign out his machine gun for the day?

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Re: "...a mark of mental health..."

well said, the UK is a much better place because of our strong gun control laws

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Re: I would hazard a guess I'm more likely to be shot by a cop

"How many people are killed each year by members of their own family rather than criminals or loons? I suspect a lot."

The vast majority of murders are intra-family, so the answer is "most of them"

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Re: People already with guns waking up crazy.

According to El Reg's reporter, in both instances sited by the police, the perps didn't "wake up crazy" there were plenty of warning signs and the police failed to act on the warning which were given to them.

So this is also a false argument.

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Re: "...a mark of mental health..."

Why not replace the word "gun" with "car" ?

Even more lethal in my mind.

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Anonymous Coward

Back in the late 70's I was secretary of my university's rifle and pistol club. Prior to the Iranian revolution I can remember a couple of anti-Shah students turning up at the range one day. They picked up a pistol. A few short sharp words: "who gave you permission", "you didn't check whether it was unloaded" and "never point a weapon in anyone's direction unless..." and they weren't seen again.

Give club members a credit for a bit of common sense. Even a geek like me in my early 20's could spot a dodgy prospective new member.

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Anonymous Coward

Sure

Now you would be Branded a Bloody Racist and you and you club would get shut down :/

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Re: Sure

No. The process is reasonably robust. If someone is unsafe, boot them off the range. The RO's word is law. They are God. If a qualified RO says "They did x/y/z, this posed a hazard to themselves/other range users/me" then that's it.

No Police Force in the UK will challenge that, because they'd rather be sued for discrimination than investigated for issuing a Firearm Certificate to a nutjob who went on to do BAD THINGS (TM).

Similarly, Club Committees are not required to give a reason when they vote on whether to extend Full Membership to a Probationer.

The usual test is "Are they Dangerous or Disruptive?".

In the case above of the Iranian students, a simple answer is "They did not follow the Range Orders and Safety Procedures they had been instructed in, and were not receptive to remedial training. They therefore posed an unacceptable risk to range safety".

Another story I heard recently was of someone who had a prospective member shown around from a certain, much maligned religious background who asked very loudly why women were allowed to shoot and even then why they weren't required to shoot separately to the men.

Remarkably enough, tossing around sexist comments of that nature is considered disruptive to the club environment. It could get you sacked from a workplace, regardless of ethnic background, therefore it is more than enough to fail the "Dangerous or Disruptive" test.

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Re: Sure

In my experience (which is largely centred around the clubs in my county) I think it's totally inconceivable that you could get terrorists joining a shooting club. I'd be interested in the view of the university clubs though, since that's obviously going to be more of an inclusive and permissive environment compared to clubs around our area.

I say that, because the clubs around our area are largely populated with people who first learned to shoot during the war. (One trophy at my local club was inherited from the Home Guard when it disbanded, and I have a suspicion that the club is more or less a descendant of that unit)

The club would be better described as a traditional gentlemens social club that happens to be situated on a range. It being "infiltrated" by anybody, let alone terrorists is inconceivable and laughable.

The requirement that an existing member sponsor you and guarantee your good conduct pretty much precludes *any* possibility of that. I thought that the application form for membership conclusively excluded me from membership until the point that a member walked by who happened to be the head of a local community group i'd worked with when helping run our local carnival. But for that, I wouldn't have been able to join.

And that's just getting in the doors to the club, let along getting a Firearms Certificate!

Personally, I'd be more concerned about people taking up Archery given that it's not regulated, and frankly should somebody go to the effort of fitting real War Heads to their arrows then the arrow would arguably be a lot more dangerous than a .22 round.

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LAW ABIDING

Its been many years since I held a firearms licence (.22" and 7.62mm target rifles). My comments are soundly grounded on ignorance and prejudice, but hey, that shouldn't stop a proper commentard.

By and large the UK shooting community is about the most law abiding section of society. Come to the notice of the police for any reason (drink driving, TV licence etc) and your suitability to hold a licence will be reviewed. OK, an unreformed toper who hasn't got the sense to walk home from the pub may not be the most suitable, responsible candidate to hold a firearms licence. But, as they say, a friend of a friend (so very much hearsay and rumour) had an unnecessary to do retaining his right to pursue his hobby because of an offense at the lower end of the scale.

I don't want the streets of Surrey turned into the wild west any more than the next man but a sense of proportion would be nice and, of course, consistency across the various authorities.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LAW ABIDING

"your suitability to hold a licence will be reviewed"

Will? Or *are supposed to be*?

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Re: LAW ABIDING

In a lot of cases 'looking for any excuse possible to take it away'.

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Re: offense at the lower end of the scale

Hmm, I would hardly call drinking and driving the lower end of the scale. I live in a place where 2 separate instances in less than a year have seen 5 people needlessly killed, drink driving killed around 300 people last year in the UK. How sure are you that someone who does not have the common sense to not drive when under the influence is not going to pick up a gun drunk?

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Re: offense at the lower end of the scale

Downvotes, which is it? People believe that drink driving is a minor offence, or someone stupid enough to drive a heavy lump of metal when under the influence of alcohol without considering the implications is still trustworthy enough to be allowed to keep guns?

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Re: offense at the lower end of the scale

Given that the OP said that "Admittedly, [someone who drives drunk] may not be the most suitable, responsible candidate to hold a firearms licence." Then goes on to say that a vague acquaintance got grief for "an offense at the lower end of the scale" that leads me to think it was not a drink driving related offence. but rather more along the lines of a TV licence violation or jay walking.

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Thumb Down

Illegal firearms?

So the resources to deal with illegal firearms will be diverted?

Which is the greater risk?

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Unhappy

Re: Illegal firearms?

Of course. There is a chance the plod could be shot at if he went after proper criminals rather than the soft targets of the law abiding native Brit they prefer nowadays.

Whole thing is a waste of time when you can get a Makarov from a 'transient' East European gangster nearly as easily as a bag of skunk down the local pub.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Illegal firearms?

There's have been two firearms related murders within sight of my front window at my east London flat in the 10 years I've lived here, probably 10 or 15 within a mile in the 25 years I've lived in the area in total. So no, rifle clubs aren't top of the list of gun owners who make me nervous.

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Anonymous Coward

Toblerone & Cuckoo Clocks.

How's the gun crime rate in Switzerland? Isn't everyone over there issued with a SIG assault rifle? They don't have a problem....maybe that system and mind set could be transposed to this country?

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Re: Toblerone & Cuckoo Clocks.

National service is still a requirement there and they get to take their rifles home with them but only in recent years did they stop them also taking ammunition. They do have a small problem with misplaced firearms though, last count I saw was over 10,000 but not sure what timescale that covers.

Scared yet?

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Re: Toblerone & Cuckoo Clocks.

Stopped them taking ammo? What good is the gun without ammo?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Toblerone & Cuckoo Clocks.

I suspect that the plan is if Switzerland is invaded, they bring out big boxes of ammo & everyone grabs what they need.

Since the guns are looked after by the individual reserve soldiers, each soldier knows they've shot their gun in the past & it works, and they know how it's been stored/maintained. They've also already done the paperwork of recording which gun was issued to which person, so they don't have to worry about that if there's an alert.

It also reduces the amount of central storage you need - guns are moderately bulky.

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Holmes

Re: Toblerone & Cuckoo Clocks.

It is all about culture. The people I work with in Texas used to bring their rifles to school in the back of their pickup trucks so they could go hunting after school. ( Yeah things have changed).

Go to Heyjackass.com to see what Chicago is like. Strict gun laws aren't helping there. The 2000th shooting victim was this weekend.Total homicides this year, 339.

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Re: Scared yet?

Nope.

Last time the Swiss rioted was so far back I think England was a colony.

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Anonymous Coward

worth noting

that the Police licence records for firearms holders are completely screwed up after the various amnesty's where guns were handed in but the licence was never updated.

In all seriousness - if you own a gun that's licenced, phone up and find out exactly what you have on your licence. You may find it's got guns you've previously destroyed / handed in / traded on and you're still liable for them.

This, I know for a fact as I deal with the stuff every day.

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Re: worth noting

Sorry buddy but that's nonsense. Let's start with: what on earth have amnesties got to do with firearms licensing? Additionally, your use of incorrect terminology shows clearly that you do not "deal with this stuff every day". Please stop muddying the water.

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Re: worth noting

He does have a valid point about taking the time to make sure that all the weapons you are licensed for are actually in your possession. It would suck if some firearm you sold years ago was found at a murder scene and the last recorded owner was yourself. Even if you explain to the police that you sold it 5 years ago they are going to investigate you as a suspect, and that means they will be digging into your personal life more than you might want them to.

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Re: worth noting

At the time of the Dunblane Massacre and the resulting kneejerks I was the secretary of a pistol club. I had 4 semi-auto pistols, two revolvers and two single shot target pistols and up to 5500 rounds of .22LR ammunition in a sturdy cupboard in my garage.

They all had to go, the better ones to a club with much better security (fair enough) and the others were handed in at the local Police station to a startled civvy on the desk. And then the extra .22 ban came in so even the good ones got destroyed.

So now only the criminals have easy access to guns.

But anyway, about handing them in: when you have a Firearms Certificate absolutley everything you do with transferring guns or ammo has to be marked on it. If you buy or sell a gun it has to go on the FAC, to buy ammo you have to show your FAC and convince the gun shop owner that you have space in your allowed quantity to buy it. If you get a surprise inspection (and they do happen), and have anything different to what it says on your FAC all your guns are destroyed (with no compensation), and you could be in serious trouble. NOBODY would ever hand in a gun without getting their FAC stamped and signed, that would be lunacy.

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Re: worth noting

Don't FAC's have a limited number of slots on them anyway?

If you handed guns in and never had them removed you wouldn't have room to add new ones would you?

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Re: worth noting

Yeah, a legal owner is unlikely to hand in their guns during an amnesty - amnesties are a no-questions-asked opportunity for illegally held firearms to be held in.

If you've got it on your ticket you sell it, or indeed hand it in at a Police station for destruction. There are no questions to be asked - you have a gun, the serial matches the record on your ticket. You get a receipt, ticket written on, and you inform the Licensing Office that you have disposed of the gun. And you file away copies of all that paperwork.

Any FAC-holder who has somehow disposed of firearms and not got their ticket appropriately amended is a numpty. Similarly the Police should have NO excuse for not holding an accurate record, unless the FAC holder has failed to inform them of the transfer - which is a breach of their statutory Certificate conditions.

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Clubcard Points

In other news, Tesco has been requested to analyse the purchases of all its customers in case they've purchased common household chemicals which might be used as precursors for explosives or poison gas manufacture.

To avoid detection, DO NOT buy Harpic & Domestos in the same transaction.

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Happy

Re: Clubcard Points

Brilliant. So my shopping list for Monday is Harpic, Domestos, garden fertiliser, weedkiller, polystyrene balls, and eight thousand cheap alarm clocks with glow-in-the-dark faces.

I'm just gonna flog this stuff on eBay. Honest!

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Facepalm

Re: Clubcard Points

Pay in cash, wear a baseball cap and distinctive clothing that you don't normally wear, do not present a club card and walk a torturous route back to your car parked out of site of cctv before changing...

And as mentionned before, as a previous gun owner abroad, getting legal entrance to a club and owning a licence for specific classes of firearms is fairly easy, and legit club members can spot the rookies, and differenciate gun nuts from interested newbies... But as full auto AK-47's and RPG-7's - totally illegal "weapons of war" are used to knock off armoured cars going to the bank, I don't think that any local terrorists would have a problem in getting any hardware without going through legal channels.

Also, from rumours putting an off the record totally illegal full auto AK-47 at way less than 1000 euros a shout, it's cheaper getting one of them than buying a legal semi-auto AK-74 at 1100 euros second hand or an AR15 for 2000 ( http://tecmagex.com/fr/armes-de-poing-munitions-1ere-4eme-categorie-tecloisirs/arme-de-poing-categorie-b/armes-d-epaule/proarms-armory-par-mk3-carabine-semi-auto-223-rem-canon-10-5.html ) , then going throigh the legal hoops, and paying the gun club membership for 2 years... the thought had crossed my mind but as a legal gun owner, you are liable to be searched for compliance for your legally held firearms, so owning an illegal one is a massive liability... But once again the Police are doing security theatre and can crow all they like about it without actually doing anything useful. Like stopping illegal sales of illegal firearms and ammo... or maybe just putting a lot more leather on pavement as a visible prevention... but that costs too much money that is needed to buy F-35B's. And that is a rant for another day...

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Anonymous Coward

What about Ron Paul supporters

Back when Ron Paul was still in office one of the State Police Departments defined a potential domestic terrorists as some one who supported Ron Paul, was pro-life and a member of the NRA.

Once the memo was leaked they backpedaled immediately.

In the recent mass shooting incidents in the U.S. the shooter was seeing a therapist. All of shootings occurred in a Gun Free Zone.

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Re: What about Ron Paul supporters

Good points all, but mostly irrelevant to the British situation.

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Easy Targets

The shooting community has always been an easy target for the police. They know where we all are and what firearms we possess and as has been said we are EXTREMELY law abiding. So in 1997/98 we all trooped down to the local nick and handed our pistols and revolvers in.

Unfortunately this has had a detrimental effect on any attempt to fix handgun crime in the US. The NRA (The US version not the original one in Surrey.) point at what happened in the UK as reason to oppose any form of firearms licensing. They point out that after Hungerford and Dunblane the law-abiding had their guns taken off them by the government even though, in both cases, the failure was not with them but rather the licensing authorities.

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Terrorists Use iPhones...

So ban them!

Anything else terrorists use we can ban at the same time?

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Re: Terrorists Use iPhones...

Any nitrate fertilizer. You should need the equivalent of a US Class III firearms license to use that stuff. I mean, you can blow up entire buildings with it. Not like some pissant AK-47 which can only do in a few dozen people.

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Terrorists use iPhones...

Oxygen?

Problem solved!

It does occur to me that a sufficiently ingenious nutter is always going to outthink an entire team of Plod no matter how smart they are, case in point it is possible to make an IED using pretty much any combination of common children's toys and common chemicals.

Short of banning R/C devices entirely and any chemical more noxious than water then the nutters would just use crossbows instead.

Better to educate the public on detecting said nutters before they can strike.

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Naivity unbound

UK gun rights were systematically removed one by one according to a pre-decided plan.

..and now look at the way the police and govt treat people.

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Big Brother

Re: Naivity unbound - UK Gun Licences

Gun licences were only introduced in the UK following the Russian Bolshevik uprising. The establishment were scared shitless the same would happen here (obviously not understanding British apathy too well or did that come later).

One of the reasons shotguns were treated differently to other types of fire arms (until recently) as the establishment still wanted to go on grouse and peasant pheasant shoots and they were above suspicion!

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The only people in the UK who should have guns are the army and the police and even then the police should not carry guns as a matter of course. The risk of gun ownership are simply too high and there are simply no benefits from having them in the hands of the public.

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Anonymous Coward

It's.....

wimpy idiots like you that should be banned from ever opening your ignorant mouth, owning a phone or a computer. The less you "Think of the children" namby-pamby mincing morons can say the better.

An armed civilian or policeman does NOT equate to criminal activity. At least not to someone with any common sense.

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Try telling that to Police Scotland. They carry guns when responding to routine incidents.

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Anonymous Coward

benefits...

I get loads of benefit from my guns. I enjoy a bit of target shooting, I clear my croft of pest species and I put some food on the table with them.

Maybe you don't have any use for them but I do.

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