Recent studies have shown that despite a ban on pistols in the late 1990s, the use of firearms in crimes has far from decreased. Whilst gun crime has remained consistent, the United Kingdom’s performance in the Olympic games shooting events has deteriorated.
Recent figures collected by the Conservatives have shown that in 2007 and 2008, there was rise of 89 per cent of firearms offences from the number recorded in 1998/99. I believe that all the ban on pistols has done is take sporting tools away from enthusiasts. Frankly, criminals used pistols before the ban and continued to do so after the ban. I know it sounds trite, but I do believe the over used saying that "if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will carry them".
The real difficulty arises from the fact that Michael Robert Ryan, Thomas Hamilton, and most recently Derrick Bird, were all legal firearms certificate holders. This is of course a major stumbling block in any argument for a repeal of the law. (Hard cases make bad law). However, I believe that it has become far more difficult to obtain a firearms licence in the UK, as for example, you have to be a member of a licensed club for a year, and pass an interview with police staff. I understand that this may still not be enough and suggest that the United Kingdom should consider adopting customs similar to those used in Scandinavia in which more vigorous psychological tests are required. Perhaps, to own a pistol you must prove yourself, (and arguably more importantly learn if you enjoy shooting), by first owning a low calibre rifle for a year and attending a set number of club meetings.
Whilst I would personally welcome a law in which I could choose to own a variety of calibres, I fully understand that the safety of the public must be weighed against the freedom of the sportsman. However, bearing in mind the points made above regarding the criminal use of guns, it seems to me that the return of sporting calibres (.22) would be of an enormous benefit to sportsman with minimal or probably no effect on gun crime.