Among the many stories of good, ordinary shooters losing their guns to Devon & Cornwall Police’s gun grab, the story of Tom Wyndham Smith and Arthur Harvey is one of the nastiest.
Four armed police turned up at Tom’s home in Cornwall in August 2021. They said there had been complaints against, though they refused to say what. They seized his firearms and revoked his certificate.
Tom rang BASC’s legal department. He told them that he had no money for a crown court appeal against the revocation. He says BASC was helpful, but could only advise him to accept the revocation, wait two-five years and reapply for a new firearms certificate. BASC said he might be able to get a friend to put the guns on his ticket in the meantime.
As with many other shooters in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset – which Devon & Cornwall Firearms licensing covers – Tom started the long process of trying to contact the firearms licensing officer in Middlemoor, outside Exeter. After dozens of calls and emails, he had a response. ‘No’ – they would not tell him what the allegations were against him. ‘Yes’ – he could ask a friend to obtain a variation and recover his firearms for him
Tom asked his friend, Art Harvey, to apply for a variation and claim his guns from St Austell police station. Tom and Art go foxshooting, rabbit shooting, they shoot crows and pigeons, and look after deer management on local farms.
Art applied for the variation and, amazingly, received it in good time. He applied in December 2021 and received it in February 2022. Other shooters say variations from Devon & Cornwall Constabulary are taking more than six months.
Art was about to go to St Austell to pick up Tom’s guns from the police station, which was holding them, when police revoked Art’s certificate as well. The police action came from nowhere and took both Art and Tom by surprise.
Again, police say there is an allegation against Art that he had threatened someone with a gun. Again, they would not say what, where or when.
Art is retired and lives on a small pension. Like Tom, he can’t afford the legal bill of a crown court appeal. He and Tom believe that Devon & Cornwall Constabulary knows this, and that’s why police have targeted them for gun seizure and certificate revocation.
Both say that the police action is a thinly-veiled attempt to save jobs in the wake of the Plymouth shootings in August 2021. It looks increasingly like that one of the causes of the Plymouth shootings is negligence by Devon & Cornwall firearms licensing.
Art and Tom agree they have lost faith in the police.
Devon & Cornwall Constabulary refuses to comment.
For the full story on the gun grab, go to Fcha.nl/devoncornwallgunlicensing