However, gun crime has got worse since the legitimate sport of target pistol shooting was destroyed.
Teaching children to shoot safely from an early age will remove the glamour from the gun and will also reduce the incidence of tragic mistakes in gun handling that occur when people whose only knowledge of guns comes from watching films, etc, come across them. It is dangerous for any society to allow only the forces of the state to possess arms.
We are all, shooters and non-shooters, striving to obtain a safer society, free from violence. The difference is in our beliefs in what are the underlying causes of that violence.
We should be investigating the real causes of anti-social behaviour to formulate effective measures to combat it.
My association is campaigning for fair and effective fire-arms law. At present, the law meets neither objective.
RICHARD V MALBON
Sportsman’s Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Patrick Mercer, MP, is to be congratulated on his call for young people to be educated in the use of guns, as firearms (legal and otherwise) will always be with us.
As a writer on firearms matters, my shooting career be-gan when I was ten, under the expert tutelage of an experienced uncle, and continued in my school’s combined cadet force, and later as a TA officer, when I shot target rifles to international level.
All stages of that progression inculcated a profound respect for firearms safety, which, as a shooting coach, I have subsequently sought to pass on to a great many keen young people. Many have become distinguished shooters, both civilian and military, and all can be regarded as thoroughly responsible citizens, owing to the in-depth background police checks made before a firearms certificate is granted.
An untrained youngster exposed to extreme gun violence in cartoons and on TV, and subsequently tempted to acquire an unlicensed firearm, can only constitute an exceptionally serious threat to society. Formal, structured training early in life can vastly mini-mise the chances of such a situation arising.
The proposal by Patrick Mercer that children should be taught to use guns is wrong-headed. And he is in error when he describes the handgun ban imposed after the Dunblane massacre, as "shortsighted".
His comparison with deaths caused by motor cars is inept.
The whole raison d’etre of any weapon is to kill or injure. Motor vehicles, on the other hand, exist to transport people from point A to point B. Car fatalities, though tragic, are, overwhelmingly, incidental and accidental. The same can only rarely be said of guns.
SAMUEL T ANDERSON
King Street, Stenhousemuir