25 SEPTEMBER 1993, Page 26

Arms and the men

Sir: Alasdair Palmer is to be congratulated for his piece on the lawful and criminal ownership of firearms in this country ('Seri- ously tanked up', 18 September).

A few errors crept in: a bazooka is a type of rocket launcher, so perhaps it is best not to take at face value the spiel of black-market arms dealers, and the seminal Act which introduced firearms controls in this country was the Firearms Act of 1920, not 1921.

Mr Palmer's central point is well made: the main concern of the British Govern- ment these last 70 years has been to disarm the law-abiding who pay for licences, not the criminals who do not. As an illustration, from 1988 to 1991 the number of shotgun certificates fell from 971,102 to 800,085, even as armed robberies rose from 2,688 to 5,296.

Further evidence that the police find it easier to pursue decent people over techni- calities came in the anonymous letter in the same issue from the person whose friend had a possibly antique rifle confiscated. The legal definition of antique guns is com- plicated, but I have some experience of it, and if your correspondent would like to contact me I would be happy to advise.

John Kallinicos

278 Manor Avenue, Sale, Cheshire