UK Shooting News is proud to present, for the first time ever, a public copy of the 1972 McKay Report which concluded that “a reduction in the number of privately held firearms is a desirable end in itself.”
This is a list of the people who made up the working party which drew up the McKay Report.
The McKay Report was, according to page 3 of the report itself, commissioned by Home Secretary Reginald Maudling MP in December 1970 “to carry out a review of the present arrangements for the control of all kinds of firearms, in consultation with chief officers of police.”
Maudling commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for England and Wales to carry out the review. It will not fail to disturb British shooters reading this in 2015 to learn that HMIC are today carrying out another review of the firearms licensing system. Very little information has made it into the public domain about the current day review; we can only hope its authors are more sensible and less inclined to kneejerkery than their bile-filled forebears from the 1970s
Appendix 1, Working Party on the Control of Firearms: Composition of the Working Party
|Sir John McKay CBE QPM||HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales (Chairman)|
|Mr J Angus QPM||Chief Constable of Leeds|
|Mr T W Chasser CVO||Chief Constable of the Scottish North-Eastern Counties|
|Mr D H J Hilary||Home Office|
|Commander H Hodgson||Metropolitan Police|
|Commander E O Howells||Police Research Services Branch, Home Office|
|Mr W Hutchison
Mr R D M Calder
|Scottish Home and Health Department|
|Mr J D McCafferty||Metropolitan Police Laboratory|
|Mr F Drayton Porter QPM||Chief Constable of Mid-Anglia|
|Mr D R Birleson||Home Office (Secretary)|
Commander Howells succeeded Commander Hodgson (now Deputy Assistant Commissioner) as the Metropolitan Police representative in July 1971, on his return to that force from his secondment to the Home Office.
This post records the 1972 McKay Report’s 76 recommendations on tightening firearms laws. It is hand typed from the only public copy of the Report known to be in existence.
The report was started just two years after the 1968 Firearms Act consolidated existing firearms controls into one new law. Colin Greenwood recorded in his authoritative memorandum to Parliament on the history of British gun law that police officers were clandestinely carrying out background work on the report in 1969 even before its production was formally authorised in 1970.
The McKay Report, finalised in September 1972, is widely seen as having been written with a pre-conceived agenda of disarmament and the deliberate destruction of private firearms ownership in Great Britain in mind. It was commissioned by Home Secretary Reginald Maudling shortly after the Conservative Party regained control of the government in 1970 from Harold Wilson’s first Labour administration.
Given its timing and the political background, the McKay Report appears to have been written by disaffected senior police officers unhappy that they did not get their way when Wilson’s government legislated to pass new firearms controls in 1967; those controls became the Firearms Act 1968, which remains the main piece of firearms legislation in Britain today. Many of the recommendations below, drawn directly from the report, demanded tighter controls than Parliament saw fit to include.
Despite the range of sweeping changes, the report was generally kept quiet – though its conclusions will seem strikingly familiar to the modern reader, and it seems to have driven the police position on ever-greater firearms controls since its completion. It was never made publicly available until April 2015, following a Freedom of Information campaign by this blog’s author against the Home Office that lasted seven months. The Home Office acted improperly; they should have disclosed it within 30 working days of the original request in late 2014 as the law requires.
The list below is set out in exactly the same way as the report itself. The paragraph number in brackets refers to the main body of the report, each paragraph of which goes into greater detail about the reasoning for the recommendation.
UK Shooting News will be publishing separate commentary on the McKay Report and further extracts.
UK Shooting News has obtained a copy of the 1972 Report of the Working Party on the Control of Firearms under the Freedom of Information Act. This document has, to the best of our knowledge, never been made public before.
The estimable Colin Greenwood, former police constable and editor of the now-defunct Guns Review magazine, referred to it in his authoritative memorandum on the history of British firearms controls that he submitted to Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee:
38. In December 1970, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir John McKay, was formally asked to review the current law on firearms. He set up a working group consisting of chief officers of police, Scottish Office and Home Office officials. Though there were some meetings of sub groups with representatives of shooting organisations, there was no real consultation and the entire proceedings were confidential.
39. Although the study was formally authorised in December 1970, preparatory work must have been going on for at least a year prior to that because the Staff Officer to HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary visited Cambridge in the autumn of 1969 seeking information about research being conducted by a senior police officer and offering to share available information. He was briefed on the progress of the research and when it became clear that the study raised doubts about the effectiveness and efficiency of the system all contact was cut off and no liaison took place. The researcher concluded that the Working Party was not interested in information which did not conform to its pre-determined results.
40. The McKay report was produced in September 1972, but has never been made public. It is known, however, that the first of 70 conclusions reached in a summary of the report was that a reduction in the number of firearms in private hands was a desirable end in itself. The report contained no evidence to justify this conclusion.
As it only arrived in this morning’s post the full text is going to take a while to read, digest and blog about. My eventual hope is to get the full document online; however, as the original report was a typewritten manuscript that was evidently photocopied for my FoI request, and there’s a 2″ thick pile of paper on my desk next to me, this may take some time. (anyone got a multi-page-feed document scanner in the London area?!)
Mr Greenwood’s memo leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that the McKay Report is the source document which set British firearms policy for the latter half of the 21st Century. The Report’s effects are still felt in legislation and practice today. Its release into the public domain will help immeasurably those fighting to preserve our sport.
To give a flavour of the Report, here is Conclusion No.1:
1. We are satisfied that the holding of firearms by private individuals does contribute to crime committed with firearms; and we concluded that a reduction in the number of firearms in private hands is therefore a desirable end in itself.