‘A SIGNIFICANT firearms incident’ is possibly ‘the greatest area of risk for the Island’, according to the States police, who have backed calls for ministers to prioritise a review of Jersey’s outdated gun laws.
The force has joined a growing chorus of concern, which now includes Constables responsible for issuing firearms licences, about the risk posed by the thousands of weapons, including semi-automatic guns, in private ownership.
St Martin Constable Karen Shenton-Stone said the law was no longer fit for purpose. The days of firearms being predominantly issued for people to control vermin on their land were long gone, she explained.
In April 2021, Jersey had 1,277 firearms certificate holders, with 160 in St Helier, 158 in St Brelade, and 157 in St Ouen. Figures released for 2017 reveal that registered firearms then included 2,350 shotguns, 2,216 rifles, 165 carbines, 1,534 semi-automatic pistols, and 590 air rifles. In November 2020, the total number of firearms held was 8,982.
Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles said that while there was ‘no specific cause for concern’, she was in favour of a review of the law and that one was scheduled for 2024. Several Constables have told the JEP that that review should be brought forward.
Their concern was not shared by long-time spokesman for gun owners in Jersey Derek Bernard. He said that gun laws ‘do not do any good at all – only harm’. He added that they did not reduce violence or crime. Mr Bernard suggested that the recent experience of Ukraine demonstrated the importance of people being able to own weapons.
While he said that there was currently no risk of the UK or Jersey being invaded, he argued that Ukrainians had built up their ability to defend themselves and fight back. Chief Inspector Chris Beechey backed the calls for a review, saying a significant firearms incident could be the ‘greatest area of risk for the Island’.