2 Aug 2016 – The kneejerk ban on most civilian target pistols in 1997 cost taxpayers almost nine figures, according to a Parliamentary statement made last week.
Answering a question in the House of Lords from Earl Attlee, Home Office peer Baroness Williams of Trafford said: “The rounded total of compensation payments made under the two Acts was £97 million.”
The first of the two Firearms (Amendment) Acts of 1997 banned all full-bore pistols. This was a vain vote-grabbing exercise by the doomed government of John Major, which lost power in that year’s general election.
Tony Blair’s incoming Labour government, as an act of pure spite, passed the Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) Act 1997, which banned .22″ pistols as well.
Both acts were passed as a response to the Dunblane murders, where a man who police had been repeatedly warned was not safe to possess firearms – including by their own constables – continued to hold a firearm certificate and used his pistols to murder an entire class of primary school children and their teacher.
The staggering cost of banning private property may give the EU pause for thought as it prepares to force through a ban on semi-automatic firearms and standard capacity magazines. Vicky Ford MEP, the EU’s “rapporteur” for the ban, seems to have compromised by agreeing with a full ban but immediately introduced draft wording that exempts target shooters, while making it harder to buy full-bore semi-autos.
Recent government statistics showed that there are more than 16,000 licensed pistols in UK private ownership today, though these are all long-barrelled and black powder firearms rather than true pistols. The figure runs at about two thirds of licensed pistol ownership pre-1997.