Gun grab victim: a serving police officer writes…

A serving police officer wrote this for Fieldsports News on condition of anonymity

I, too, have been duped into coercively handing over my legally and lawfully owned sporting guns to the police and I am just as confused as your other case study subjects. Except I am a current serving police officer required to carry a section 5 firearm in public. I have had my personal firearms, shotguns and certificates taken with no valid reasons or paperwork given, other than being told I had not disclosed a a learning difficulty on variation applications – even though I declared it on my original application in 2017, which is due for renewal in July 2022.

I informed my employer, and refused to carry my section 5 and utility belt, but was told to resume with normal duties until informed otherwise.

I have been vetted numerous times and worked for different police services in various roles, as well as on military establishments as a pest control wildlife technician.

As a juvenile I owned UK legal air rifles and BB and paintball guns, I went through the Boy Scout program and learned to prepare rabbit, squirrel and pigeon meat as food for survival.

As I got older I began to try clay pigeon shooting and loved the challenge of tracking a moving target. I also got into smallbore and competing in local target shooting competitions.

I then got in to centrefire and reproduction vintage rifles, where I took part in turning target competitions with cowboy-style underlevers and began to press my own bullets.

I am a current serving police officer who routinely carries a section 5 firearm and I have tried out as an AFO.

In early December 2021, I had an unannounced visit from my local constabulary, who showed me their IDs and I invited them in. Once in there was no small talk just: “There’s no easy way of saying this but we are here to take your guns away.”

They told me they couldn’t tell me why, other than I had failed to declare a learning difficulty/neurological condition when I had applied for variations to my license. They told me I declared it on my original application but not on the variations.

I was then escorted to my gun cabinet which they emptied. I asked them to put the guns in individual slips, which they declined. They placed all my guns together in one holdall. I was horrified.

I was concerned how this was going to affect my employment as well as my personal family life. How do I explain this to my family and friends? I was due to go shooting at the weekend.

They left without giving me any official paperwork. I rang 101 and checked that they were on official police business and then I notified my employer, as instructed in police regulations and standards of professional behaviour if I became subject to an investigation, but they gave me the silent treatment.

Eventually someone began to speak to me after I flagged up that I did not know whether to carry my section 5 firearm at work. They told me that, if they didn’t want me to carry, they would have instructed me not to.

They have not followed police regulation 17 by notifying me in writing within five days – but they may have applied something called the harm test which means I have been deemed a danger to myself or others, so they can refuse to disclose the real reason why.

I have since been challenging the legality of the voluntary handover/seizure. I have been met with a wall of silence, other than being told to stop emailing the FELU as it is unprofessional and may result in disciplinary action.

Despite all this, please don’t blame the police. A constable will either have a warrant or immediate grounds to remove your guns.

If you passively resist they can use that as grounds to suspect that you are not complying with the conditions of your license.

Here is what to do if police turn up on your doorstep:

  • In the first instance, keep them on the doorstep
  • Check their ID
  • Ring 101 and check the legitimacy of the visit, especially if your details were recently leaked on anti-hunting websites (Guntrader and badger cull hacks)
  • Do not rush anything: count every single gun and bit of ammo
  • Make them treat your guns with care
  • Get a receipt for the guns and ammo
  • Ask for an official written explanation letter from their chief or a warrant or immediate grounds

Then you will have to file an official complaint to the seizing force and challenge them legally. If still unsatisfied with the outcome, report them to the IOPC.

More of our Devon & Cornwall police gun grab coverage:​​​
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