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Interview – Callum Long-Collins: A man whose guns were confiscated for committing a thought-crime

Today, Callum is probably the second most famous UK gun rights activist who had his firearms confiscated after Phillip A. Luty. Luty was grinded by the system after he set to prove that gun bans don’t work as anyone can make a firearm with parts and tools available in any hobby shop. Callum, meanwhile, faced the music for proclaiming that victims of Paris terror attacks would have had a chance to survive if French laws had not banned carrying and in essence also use of firearms for self-defense. In exclusive interview with zbrojnice.com, Callum talks about his case as well as other issues that Brits face when it comes to idea of defending self against crime.


Rozhovor v češtině si můžete přečíst zde: Rozhovor – Callum Long-Collins: Muž, kterému odebrali zbraně, protože spáchal myšlenkový zločin

Zbrojnice.com is a Czech language website that deals with practical, legal, cultural and social issues of civilian firearms ownership. This interview was conducted in English and thus you can read it also in original language version below.


From false accusation to having firearms confiscated

Callum, in all fairness, your first contact with police didn’t happen as a consequence of your outspoken ideas. Could you describe the very beginning of it all?

The catalyst to the removal of my firearms was a false allegation of assault, whilst there was no evidence of the assault and all charges were dropped it allowed the police to investigate further into my suitability to own firearms. Due to the opinions I had shared on EnglishShooting they felt that removing my certificates and firearms was in the interest of public safety.

 

So, the original case was dropped, but your firearms were not returned. What happened next?

I appealed the revocation in Magistrates Court. This is a panel made up of a judge and 2 magistrates that hears both sides and will decide the outcome between themselves, so no jury.

They upheld the revocation due to “my unwillingness to accept that my views were anything but mainstream and reasonable”. It was felt that I was trying to incite vigilantism amongst firearms owners and had taken my words out of context.

What is the legal basis for police to revoke your license based on an opinion? Is your case an outlier or do you know about more cases like yours?

Owning firearms in the UK is a privilege and the requirement for suitability is high which means that the police are able to remove licenses easily when they are concerned. Revocation is more difficult based on an opinion but if they feel it is in the public interest they can do so.

I am not aware of any other cases based on opinion, but there are many due to posts on social media. Mainly pictures or videos. One specific case is a hunter who took a picture of his gun on top of his days bag of pigeons. The police felt this was in bad taste and not behaviour a responsible firearms owner would exhibit. Fortunately for the owner the revocation was overturned.

 

I am a little lost here. In part of UK – Northern Ireland – British citizens can get concealed carry license and have firearms for personal protection. Why is the idea of armed self defense so revolutionary in the rest of the UK?

It leaves me lost too, especially when my opinions on self defence were not directed at the UK but Paris. The UK population for the most part intrust that the police and ultimately the government will keep them safe. I believe most people don’t feel the need for self defence because that’s what the police are for. To say that people need to be able to defend themselves may, to some people, be saying that our police are either not good enough or are not doing a good enough job.

Long legal battle

You then went and challenged it in court. How demanding was it regarding time and expenses? What was the basis of the final decision?

Incredibly. Many hours of preparation and interviews were required with my legal team, the cost ran into £1000’s, the fees for the court day alone were £2500 excluding all of the prior work. The only way I was able to appeal is due to having legal insurance through my membership with BASC (British Association Shooting Conservation).

The finial decision was to uphold the revocation due to my views. The judge had noted that I was very passionate about shooting and the rights of shooters but was concerned of when passion turns into fanaticism. Was there a chance that I was going to overstep the mark with my firearms.

 

What are your chances of getting license back in the future? What process will you have to go through and under what conditions?

I would say a high chance given time. I’ve been told that a successful application is likely in May 2020 on the condition that there is no concerning behaviour by myself. There are have been a few specific condition put on me although 2 of those have been dropped due to having no legal basis:

  • I was told that I couldn’t continue my sponsorship with Blue Fieldsports as by promoting a firearms dealer it required me to be a servant. Servants are approved people who can operate under the certificate of an RFD (registered firearms dealer). This was found to not be the case and the condition was removed.
  • I was also told that I could no longer post videos or pictures of me handling firearms online. This was the main reason for shutting down EnglishShooting. Again it was found that this was incorrect. As I do not have a criminal record I am not prohibited from handling firearms under supervision, there is also a specific piece of law that allows people to handle firearms for tv and film.

 

If we consider that a person didn’t commit a thought-crime, how difficult is it for an average Briton to get a license and purchase firearms? There are contradictory information – on one hand the law seems to be pretty straightforward but then in reality apparently even shall-issue licenses for shotguns are often denied.

Fairly difficult due to the time, paperwork and checks that are required. For an FAC (Firearms Certificate) required for target sports you need to be a full member of a Home Office approved club. Full membership will require 3-6 months of regular visits to a club.

Once a full member it can then take anywhere from 3 to 12 months to obtain an FAC. During the application process you have to supply two references, two people that have known you for at least 2 years, they will be interviewed, your family or work my be contacted as well. You have to undergo a formal interview with the police and your Doctor will be contact.

Britons defenseless against crime rise

Britain is now well known as the rape capital of the world with 96 rapes per 100.000 people. That is more than four times higher than a decade ago. There is similar trend as regards rise of violence with injury. What is the general feeling of safety in UK?

It will depend hugely on where you live. In my home town I feel very safe, crime is very low and I would be happy to walk the streets at night. During my time living in London I did not feel the same level of safety. There are areas you would simply not walk through during the day or at night.

Unfortunately this is starting to spread across the UK with an increase in drug and gang activity in the smaller towns like mine. Many are wondering with police numbers and funding cut year on year how the government are going to tackle this with the main concern being how bad are things going to get.

 

What are the best possibilities for law abiding Brits to have a chance to defend themselves from violent criminals?

Run and hide. This is the only advise given by the police.

In law we are able to defend ourselves using reasonable force but there is no set guidance of what is reasonable.

 

Apart from banning tools for self defense, are there other legal pitfalls when it comes to self-defense?

Guns, knives and other tools commonly owned for self defence across the world have been legally used in the UK but it is against the law to own anything specifically for self defence. Which can complicate matters.

If someone legally owns a shotgun for clay pigeon shooting and is attacked in their home to the point that they fear for their life they could legally use that shotgun for self defence.

However if the police feel you own something for self defence or that something you have used in self defence was premeditated (baseball bat by the bed for example) you will be prosecuted for possession of an offensive weapon.

No change in sight

Is there any chance for a change in foreseeable future?

I would say it is unlikely but these are interesting times. There is an underling feeling of frustration with the British public, there are less police than ever and crime is on the rise, at what point will people start taking things into their own hands, and will the government change the law before that happens?

Specially with firearms law, with the banning of the MARS and lever action rifles I fear any changed in the future will be further bans and restrictions.

 

If you could change three things in British gun laws right away, what would they be?

A general license for firearms, at the moment you require permission for every firearm you own. Moving to a general licenses would save massive amounts of time and cost to our police allowing them to focus better on checking people for suitability ensuring guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Legalises .22 pistols for sport. 42% of all gun crime in the UK is with handguns which are already banned, the ban on handguns quite clearly does little to prevent crime and our Olympic handgun team and future hopefuls have suffered enough to no effect.

Remove the purchase of mini rifles from the section 11.4 exemption. At the moment (with the right justification) anyone can legally buy a rifle up to .23 calibre without a licence or checks. Whilst I’m pro gun, I’m a firm believer that checks are required to ensure someone is fit to own a gun.

Interview continues with second part to be published on 15/05/2019.


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