HC Deb 23 September 1948 vol 456 cc1079-80
44. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what instructions he has given to chief constables regarding the issue of arms licences to responsible persons residing in isolated localities; and whether chief constables are permitted to exercise their discretion in carrying out such instructions.

Mr. Ede

The law provides that the question whether a firearm certificate should be issued in a particular case is one for decision by the chief officer of police, subject to appeal to Quarter Sessions, and I have issued no instructions in the matter. I have, however, advised chief officers of police that in my view it should hardly ever be necessary for an individual to possess a firearm for the purpose of defending his person or property and that, in general, firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection in this country.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this instruction or this advice has not prevented a very large number of criminals from being in possession of firearms and using them, but it has prevented a good many law abiding and responsible persons living in isolated localities from having any means of protection?

Mr. Ede

I am not at all sure that if I advised that the private citizens of this country should arm themselves it would lead to anything other than a considerable increase in the arming of criminals.