I WOULD like to reply to the “exclusive” article suggesting that our police officers are [in the words of Freedom of Information campaigner Peter Cherbi] “hunting, shooting and stuffing animal heads on the walls as trophies” (Fears over ‘gun culture’ within Scottish police force, The National, December 2). Such a claim is to say the very least ill informed.

I have known a few members of the police force and never came across any who were “happily blasting away at Bambi, Thumper and anything else that moves”.

In my experience they had much more interest in either clay pigeon shooting or indoor target rifle shooting, such sporting applications being more readily available.

A firearms certificate is of course available to any member of the public who meets the strict legal requirements. The emphasis on “silencers” as somehow being inherently “bad” is unreasonable.

For controlling rabbits and other vermin a sound moderator is effective: you may expect to shoot three or four rabbits, where without sound moderation there would only be one shot possible.

I would suggest it is also safer. Normal high-velocity ammunition is supersonic, but only low-power subsonic ammunition is effective with sound moderators. Less power, less distance and less chance of ricochet.

“High-calibre hunting rifles” are legally required for “culling deer populations” for the humane practical reason that the shock impact of a heavy calibre bullet will kill a deer instantly whereas the lighter bullet from a small bore weapon would only injure rather than kill outright.

Playing the Bambi card is pathetic. In the absence of natural predators deer populations continue to expand, threatening biodiversity and causing road traffic accidents and crop damage.

Dr Paul Dolman, ecologist at the University of East Anglia, said: “We know deer are eating out the vegetation of important woodlands, including ancient woodlands.

“There is evidence that deer reduce the number of woodland birds – especially some of our much loved migrant birds species like Blackcap and Nightingale, and resident species like Willow Tit. We have a problem.”

In Scotland after the Second World War, the deer population had increased to about 100,000. Acknowledging the problem the Red Deer Commission was set up in 1959, with powers to intervene to protect agriculture and forestry.

Their conclusion was that the number should be limited to 60,000. The Scottish deer population is currently well over half a million. So I repeat Dr Dolman’s comment: “We have a problem”.

I would expect the training and weapons used by police firearms officers would bear little resemblance to those available in a private capacity.

Murray Dunan


THE police are looking for a man who fired an air weapon at a house in Stirling.

It will be remembered that with great fanfare the Scottish Government introduced the licensing of air weapons, saying that there were 500,000 weapons in circulation.

At that time a Scottish Government spokeswoman said that: “The new licensing regime will provide even greater protection for Scotland’s communities by helping keep these firearms out of the hands of those who would misuse them”.

The latest figures available reveal that 21,404 weapon were surrendered and 17,332 licences issued.

Where are the other 461,264 weapons? Looks like the SNP have been out-gunned.

Clark Cross