Legal

DAVID FROST says: I think you may be referring to some recent high profile cases where the police refused to grant a certificate to an applicant who needed it for humane killing in conjunction with deer stalking. They lost the subsequent appeal to the Crown Court.

In all the successful appeals the applicant was able to show that the police had not acted reasonably in respect of the application and in some cases costs were awarded to the applicant – an unusual situation.

Although most pistols were banned in 1997, an exception was made for pistols being used as humane killers and slaughtering instruments, but some police forces have an irrational objection to this use and have refused to grant certificates, often for the most idiotic reasons.

As with any firearm you will need to show good reason before being granted a certificate, but in considering the case, the police are required to look at it from the point of view of the applicant – not that of a potential objector.

However you won’t get a certificate just because you fancy having a pistol; a substantive reason is required. Most stalkers will take a second shot if an animal is not killed cleanly the first time, but there are circumstances in which a rifle is not suitable and a pistol more appropriate.

Because of the ‘Dirty Harry’ connection, eyebrows were raised over the use of .44 magnum for humane killing, but the applicants did have special reasons for getting one. Ordinarily a .32 ACP, .38 or .357 would be more appropriate or maybe a 9mm or .410 shot pistol or a .22 pistol for smaller animals such as mink in a trap.

The Crown Court decisions do not represent a step towards the removal of the ban on pistols, they merely reinforce an entitlement that is already in the law.

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