Possession of an unlicensed firearm in the UK has been illegal for generations.
Obtaining a license for a firearm in the UK is nigh on impossible unless you are a farmer (for shooting vermin, which probably won’t include human vermin who are fleeing your home after a burglary), or a member of a gun shooting club (for shooting paper discs or flying dinner plates) – every other excuse for owning a firearm in the UK will be poo-poo’ed by the police including “Its my constitutional right”, its not a constitutional right as we Brits don’t have a constitution, we do what the Queen says or its off with our heads.
Even if the local bobbies do grant you a license for shooting vermin or flying dinner plates (for they are a real menace around here) then the conditions of that license will mean that you are hardly ever able to remove it from its locked and sealed cupboard hidden in your house, for we would not want anyone else but you to discover that firearm, not in this country, oh no.
So the presence of a firearm in someones garage, for instance, tends to raise eyebrows a little.
When I was ten I found a handgun in our garage.
Legal gun ownership in the UK is infinitesimally small, illegal gun ownership, we are told by the blathering newspapers, is on the increase with a flood of such weapons from eastern Europe, the bastards, but even with the newspapers “floods” of illegal weapons there was never such a quantity of firearms among the possession of the general public as there was in the 1940’s and 1950’s when men returning from WWII would as a matter of course forget to hand in their service weapons or forget to mention that “souvenir” gun that they had “found” during their state-sponsored five year vacation in and around Europe.
And so it was with our dad.
We would be talking 1966 or similar when one fine and warm august school holiday afternoon I was rooting around in the back of our garage and for the first time in a long time had managed to prise open the lid of a large tin trunk that had lain dormant in there for as long as I could remember.
The trunk was full of rubbish, nothing to play with or set fire to at all, until there, right down in the bottom corner, what was that rag ?
I tugged at the filthy cloth and pulled whatever was wrapped within it to the surface, shut the trunk lid and placed the bundle on top of the tin trunk.
Gently unwrapping the spider infested material, you can only imagine the size of my eyes when it revealed a handgun, a Luger type (presumably) semi-automatic weapon, slightly rusty, but the trigger still worked because of course as all small boys would, thats the first thing I tried, as an adult you’d probably try and find out if it was loaded first but a ten year old boy – he just pulls the trigger, it clicked so I knew it worked, it didn’t go bang so I knew it probably wasn’t loaded – I’d seen John Wayne films you see
In those long past halcyon days of school Summer holidays our dad would be at work all day while our mum had a part time job as a cleaner at our local university until lunch time so Ned and I would have the run of the house and garden all morning until she came home…
No, it wasn’t called child neglect in those days, it was called “normal”.
We had great fun that morning, or at least I did, chasing Ned my smaller, younger and much more stupid brother all over the garden with my newly acquired gun, you see he really thought it was loaded, possibly because I told him it was loaded, you just don’t know how fast an eight year old can run around a garden and house when he thinks his big brother has got a loaded gun in his possession, I could hardly keep up with him all morning.
Of course the fun was spoiled when our mum came home, I can only imagine her surprise when Ned ran to her screaming that I had been chasing him with a real gun for hours, can only imagine that she patted him on the head and said something like “Yes dear”, can only imagine that she must have nearly fainted when I ran round the corner and pointed a real big gun at the both of them and shouted “Bang !!! you’re (nearly) dead”.
It was me who was nearly dead.
She wouldn’t touch the gun but made me put it back in the cloth and then back in the trunk and then she locked the garage door and gave me the hiding of my short life up until then.
But it was nothing compared to the hiding of his life that our dad got when he came home and for once he could not provide a suitable defence to her, he stood there for ten days receiving his bollocking until suitably cowed for the first time in his life he rang “a friend” who came and took the gun away “for shooting pigeons with” – poor bastard pigeons is all I could think.
Nothing more was ever said about the gun by our dad, even in his later years whenever I mentioned the day that I became a crazed college campus gunman running amok and shooting indiscriminately at our Ned, he would just shake his head and deny the very existence of the weapon.