(John Ward would like it pointed out he is not actually mad, but I cling to it as an attractive clickbait adjective.)
In last week’s blog, John W mentioned he used to keep guns and ammunition in his home. He had an FAC (a Fire Arms Certificate) and occasionally a policeman would come round to check the guns were being securely locked-up.
But there is more to this story, as John Ward explains here:
As part of the renewal process for an FAC, you had a visit from a member of the local police force, our own local ‘beat constable’, who checked the security boxes – one for the weapons and one for the ammunition.
In over twenty plus years in my case, the system worked well and each time I passed the requirements with ‘flying colours’ and no untoward comments.
Then it was decided that the local Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) should undertake this task.
However our CPO left a lot to be desired.
A police inspector friend whispered in my ear that, if you were a clueless copper and capable of just about screwing anything up, you were ‘promoted’ to the rank of CPO to keep you out the way – You just did basic stuff like going round and telling shopkeepers how to lock their front doors etc.
It seems our CPO was a bumbling idiot but not far off his pension so, out of kindness, he had been ‘promoted’ to end his days in this most prestigious position for, as my inspector chum pointed out, “There is no way he would ever get up to the rank sergeant – no way….no way…”
Anyway, PC Bumbling rang our doorbell one teatime. I answered it to find him on the doorstep, with his clipboard.
I asked him if he had got a bus ticket inspector’s job – like Blakey, the character in ITV’s sitcom On The Buses.
I could tell he was not amused.
He told me he had come to check my security as my FAC was soon coming up for renewal.
I pointed out that the normal, recognised procedure was a phone call first to arrange an appointment to visit.
I also pointed out that I was just going to sit down to have my din-dins that the lady of the house had cooked, so he could lick the end of his pencil and put a date down agreeable to us both to come back to do his visit.
He hummed. He aahed. And then the call came: “Dinner on the table!”
So I shut the door on him.
He did come back on a designated, agreed date and, being the complete prat he was, then asked me for my name and address and asked had it changed since my last FAC was issued.
Bearing in mind he knew my name and that he was standing in the very address as printed on the said FAC, I asked him: “What do you think?”
Next was: “Where do you keep these listed firearms? They must be in a prescribed steel box… blah..blah” and so on.
I replied that they were in a box but well hidden.
He asked where and I opened the door to our under stairs.
I told him: “In there, in the steel box.”
He looked inside, shone a torch and said he could not see anything that looked like a steel box.
I said: “Just think… If you were a burglar and looked in and thought the same, you would look elsewhere… Yes?”
I pointed out that the steel box was hidden behind a large box of Lego toy bricks that the kids played with.
I said there had been no reported cases, as far as I was aware, of anybody locally housebreaking and stealing boxes of kids’ Lego bricks but he could correct me on that.
He didn’t… I pulled the ‘decoy’ box away.
He asked me to unlock the steel box so he could see my weapons, to check their serial numbers.
He then asked what the thickness of the steel box was as he – looking at his crib sheet – said it must be 10-gauge (a metal thickness measurement) to which I said it was 6-gauge.
His eyes lit up and he said: “This is illegal!!!!! – It’s got to be 10-gauge!’
I then explained to him that the gauging of metal is on a sliding scale; the higher the number, the thinner the metal. So my 6-gauge was thicker – much like a CPO – than actually required by law… Plus others before him were more than happy about it.
I pointed out that, by having the 6-gauge, it would take a ne’er-do-well longer to break into… plus it was screwed to the floor AND bolted to the wall as well.
“Where is the ammunition?”
“Upstairs in the attic, away away from the weapons.”
He followed me upstairs and the first thing he said was: “Aha! – There’s no lock on the attic door!”
To which I explained as best I could that, until I told him there was ammunition up there, in a steel box, safely hidden from view… putting a lock on the said attic door would infer that there was something in there of value.
The previous three inspections, with different personnel doing them, had all thought it a brilliant idea.
He then went for Gold: “Some burglars would straight away go to look in the attic (!?)”
I explained that the only way I could get up there myself was by using a ladder that I kept in the shed outside the house… Maybe there were ten foot tall housebreakers I was not aware of. But, unless he had a list of approved burglars that carried their own ladder with them on their ‘jobs’, I was less than convinced.
I said, short of having a flashing neon sign over the front door saying GUNS AND AMMO KEPT HERE to take the guesswork out of the situation, did he have any bright ideas – excluding the flashing sign that is – to add to the ‘security’ I already had?
Answer there came not.
He cleared off.
I got my FAC renewed.
I brought the matter up a while later with my inspector chum. He replied with a sigh: “He is a twat. It’s a safe bet there are trees in forests still standing that are not as thick as him.”
I agreed with him… not wishing to cause trouble you understand…
NOTE TO BURGLARS AND POLICEMEN: John Ward no longer keeps guns or ammunition in his house, loft or shed.