Tim comments on firearms certificates and Alison Hernandez 2017 thoughts on gun owners helping to fight terror.

Breathtaking incompetence and failings by police allowed a gunman to kill five people during a mass shooting in Plymouth, victims’ families have said.

This was the headline from the BBC a couple of days ago.

Under the heading: Alison Hernandez and her thoughts on guns from 2017, Owl recalled how our Police and Crime Commissioner caused alarm by suggesting that members of the public who own guns could help defend rural areas against terror attacks. 

What sort of example was she setting?

With hindsight, it looks like this was the first example of the trivial and populist way in which she exercises her responsibilities, epitomised by her predilection for “selfies” at every trivial opportunity.

Yet she controls about 12% of your council tax, compared to 7% for the, arguably more visible, services provided by East Devon.

By far the biggest spender is County at around 72% under the beady eyes of our recent correspondent Cllr Phil Twiss, Cabinet Member for Finance, the rest covers Fire and parish services.

Here is what Tim wrote in his comment .yesterday:

I gather Ms Hernandez is calling for someone to be disciplined over the Keyham tragedy-but not her.

These 2017 comments gave us a great insight into what sort of Commissioner she might become. Sadly she was plainly ignorant in a number of areas that she should have mastered.

Her job is to support the police and fire service, to equip both with adequate staff and the resources needed to perform their duties.

Is it not common sense to have some knowledge of the police roles that one overseas, especially topical serious issues?

In relation to her giving consideration to Firearm Certificate Holders (FAC) perhaps having a role alongside the police response to terrorism, she demonstrated how dangerously little she knows about firearms law and police practices. Thankfully senior officers dismissed the notion-and far more gently than she deserved.

The Firearms Act ’68 is one of many Acts that lays down duties but does little or nothing to enable those duties to be supported with funding the appropriate resources. The Act, and to my mind this is one of its greatest failings, effectively requires a chief officer (or now a nominated deputy) to issue a FAC unless he/she can show it is inappropriate. It does not require the individual to prove he/she is an appropriate person . I think it’s time to reverse that onus from the police to the applicant.

When certificates are issued there are inevitably conditions attached as well as restrictions from other laws that may apply in certain circumstances. For example you cannot simply take a firearm anywhere to use it, its use will be limited to say a particular shooting club or specified farmland. Unless a FAC holder had an additional condition allowing him/her to use when assisting police (an absolute non-starter), to do what Ms Hernandez contemplates, and all other issues aside, it would in itself be a criminal offence resulting in a court hearing, likely conviction and seizure of the firearms held. That is a measure of how naïve she is on the subject.

Davison may not have been processed properly but we all know from history that people can change and quickly become dangerous. I was loosely connected with the Hungerford incident in 1987 when 16 innocents were killed by a man, Michael Ryan, who held firearms 100% lawfully under the law as applied at that time.

Managing the response was immensely challenging and I dread to think how much worse it would be if civvie armed FAC holders had also been present. And, like it or not, the police must consider the shooter and in GB terms, so very differently from that seen on US TV. The force sniper on that Hungerford occasion, now sadly no longer with us, had Ryan in his sights but didn’t shoot him. Asked why he gave a powerful reply revealing what an expert and remarkable man he was, ‘I am not an executioner. At the time he was in my sights but he was not a threat to anyone else”. Can you imagine any civvie FAC holder being so well-informed and so disciplined to properly assess and apply the law?

The Keyham case has made plain, again, the need for sufficient resources to apply the Act (as it stands today), and that such resources have not been available for many a year. Ms Hernandez must bear a good deal of responsibility for that.

The PCC says she has given more resources to the department but are we are not entitled to ask what additional resources she made available to the D&C FAC dept before Keyham?