An unsettling story about an illegal gun and “an awful lot of firepower out there”

In a recent blog, I mentioned that mad inventor John Ward – a man of often admirable creative eccentricity – used to have a gun licence for several weapons. It was not something I ever found reassuring.

He now tells me this true story…


One evening in the early 1990s, before the Dunblane massacre, I was at my local shooting range. It was not unusual for members to bring guests.

The evening went on its merry way with members blasting away at paper targets and seeing who had the best score. Then, at the end of the night, as we were clearing up to go home, a guest who had been watching asked:

“Does anybody mind if I use of the target area?”

No-one did.

So he went to the boot of his car, dragged out a bag and walked back to the shooting area which was a wall about twenty feet high and twelve feet wide made from old wooden railway sleepers because, as well as being a ‘stopping point’ for all the bullets fired in its direction, it ‘soaked up’ the bullets and prevented any ricochets.

The guest unwrapped his weapon and it was a German MP 40 machine pistol – also called the Schmeisser sub machine gun – of the sort that is a staple of World War 2 films when the German side is shown with automatic weapons – think Where Eagles Dare. It is the cheaper-made model that derived from the MP 38 but, for all that, it still killed folk efficiently.

Its magazine holds 40 rounds of 9mm ammo. It is not a sporting gun by any stretch of the imagination and, as such, was/is a banned weapon on these shores for obvious reasons and can only be legally owned by a very few people or dealers who hold a Home Office Section 5 Licence.

So we stood there with our mouths wide open and the silence was deafening. Our guest then inserted a magazine into the forward section of the MP 40, cocked the weapon, turned to us and said:

“I’m not sure how this is going to go as I have had it years and I’m not sure what noise it gives out.”

With that, we put our fingers in our ears – we had already cleared away our ear defenders/ear muffs – and… BBBBBBBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRR as our guest emptied a full magazine of forty 9mm bullets at the target area in about ten seconds – much like Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood in Where Eagles Dare in fact!

As the smoke cleared, he turned to us and said:

“Well! – that seemed to go alright, didn’t it?”

And, with that, he took the magazine out, thanked us, proceeded to put it back in the bag with the gun and took it to the boot of his car and drove off.

Afterwards, oddly, nobody could recall just who had brought him along as a guest…

For the next few weeks, I scanned the newspapers to see if there had been any ‘bank jobs’ done locally but there were none.

That was almost twenty years ago.

All this was and is illegal and, if caught with an MP 40, one’s future holiday arrangements might be arranged by Her Majesty for the next twenty years, but the streets of this country are nowadays awash with far more of this sort of stuff than ever before.

There is even more firepower in the MAC-10, which has 32 rounds of 9mm held a stick magazine housed in the pistol grip – a .45 calibre option was/is also available. The MAC-10 can empty its magazine in about 2 to 3 seconds flat.

It was put on test by the SAS but they refused to adopt it as it was inaccurate unless  – I quote – “you were having a fire fight in a telephone box”.

The MAC-10 is now a common fashion accessory among British drug gangs.

There is an awful lot of ‘firepower’ out there, perhaps some of it nearer than you might think.


Filed under Crime, Legal system

7 responses to “An unsettling story about an illegal gun and “an awful lot of firepower out there”

  1. Angus Frederick

    Oh my goodness that is a very scary story and even more alarming to think of the very mad Mr John Ward having access to guns. Heavens what next. Angus

  2. Oh deary me – stereotyping again! – you should be more ‘concerned’ about the fact that I, along with many others, were holding guns LEAGALLY with Police licence, as opposed to the drug dealers and kindred low life that have them now ILLEAGLLY with NO idea as what is out there until it goes ‘wrong’ and its splashed across the front pages and much hand wringing is done, but do bear in mind we had them for target practice – also there is an Olympic Shooting team, British and has been so for ages – and what we did was legal.
    A well known quote is “If you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have them” and judging the headlines in recent times, that’s all about true, sadly

    Perhaps “Knee Jerk Britian” might be a better term with everybody and his frying pan jumping to ill informed conclusions..

    • John (Ward), you seem to be jumping to a few conclusions yourself.

      Are you inferring that people should be able to have weapons at home, or on their person in order to defend themselves against hoodlums with guns? When two people are pointing guns at each other, there is no likelihood of an adult conversation about who is in charge. The only way to lessen the chances of this is to forbid the ownership of ALL guns. Guns are designed to kill, but are only of use when you are prepared to kill with them. Otherwise they will lead a person directly to a mortuary slab.

      PS. Single shot, Olympic style pistols are unique, and I have no problem with their controlled ownership. I doubt they’d appeal to gangsters anyway.

      • Nope, not at all.. NOBODY should have guns at home, never implied it – but as it turns out, MOST are now in criminal hands anyway as I pointed out, now only the outlaws have ’em, with no idea as to what is out there, along with many others who owned them legally, gave them in yonks ago – the crux of the matter was what I was relating to John Fleming about what happened about 12/13 years ago now.. Oddly, John did not show any signs of wanting to own anything along the lines you infer when I took him on our range years ago now!..

  3. I’m happy to stand corrected.

  4. Mr T

    Im totally with John Ward on this one.

    • Goodo! – we will meet at the Pass and then onto whatever the nasties throw at us ( as my old Granddad would have said, in between knitting his own lead free, ozone freindly catapults…)

      Best dishes!


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