The Home Office is considering relaxing the laws governing pistol shooting in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics. At present, due to laws governing pistols passed following the Dunblane tragedy in 1997, the Great Britain squad of pistol shooters is obliged to train in Zurich, Switzerland, where its guns are kept in an armoury.

Now, however, the Home Office is considering issuing 50 of the squad’s elite with Section Five permits, allowing them to store their guns and train at UK ranges from 2010 until the end of the Games. A Home Office spokeswoman told ST: “We are currently in discussion with colleagues in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport about arrangements to allow competitive pistol shooting squads to practise in the UK. Pistol shooting events in the 2012 London Olympics would be able to go ahead without changing legislation. We would be able use the Home Secretary’s powers under Section Five of the 1968 Firearms Act to authorise competitors to possess competition pistols for the duration of the Games and warm-up events.”

Ian Ballard is obliged to journey abroad to shoot pistols he has in storage. He operates the website www.resurrectthesport.net which is campaigning for a relaxation in the law to allow registered firearms licence holders to shoot in the UK. Speaking to ST, he said: “I have my pistols in Belgium and the US, and I try to travel to Belgium every 12 weeks to shoot. I am nowhere near good enough to be in contention for the Great Britain squad, but I really enjoy shooting, we ask that shooters be put through the same procedures for the grant of a .22 or .32 licence as they would for any other firearm. We ask that everyone be treated fairly.”