Orde's gunning for personal weapons Alan Murray 09 April 2006 CHIEF Constable Sir Hugh Orde has launched a bid to "decommission" hundreds of legally-held guns across Northern Ireland. Ex-RUC officers, current and former civilian PSNI employees and even judges are being asked to seriously consider whether they still need a gun for personal protection. And under new guidelines holders of PPWs will have to show they are still under a specific threat before being allowed to retain their weapon. Several hundred holders of firearms certificates received letters from the PSNI's Firearms and Explosives Branch last month, telling them of a new policy towards the possession of guns 'on-loan' from the force. It says that a new policy directive was approved by chief officers in December to overhaul the process of renewing firearms certificates. Under the directive members of the public who have 'on-loan' weapons will have to show 'good reason' for possessing a PPW under the 2004 Firearms (NI) Order. The letter says ex-police officers were granted firearms certificates under the 1981 Firearms Order on the basis of a general threat to all members of the RUC, which "established your good reason for possessing a PPW". But now ex-cops will have to prove they are still facing a "verifiable specific threat". But former Police Federation Chairman Jimmy Spratt said he questioned the "decommissioning" policy and didn't understand the logic. "I left the police service in March 2002 without a weapon for personal protection," he said. "But within months I was advised to obtain one, as a result of a security review of my circumstances after republicans were spotted near my home. What should I do?" Mr Spratt added: "What I really think is behind this is an attempt to airbrush the RUC and former members of the force from any link or contact with the PSNI." One former RUC officer who received a letter said he was concerned that the move would leave him vulnerable to attack. In a statement to Sunday Life the PSNI said that, so far, 753 people who had weapons on loan from the service had received the letters. "As people have distanced themselves from the job that they previously held that warranted the need for a PPW it was deemed appropriate to have a mechanism in place to review the need for a PPW. "There are a total of 867 people who hold weapons on loan from the PSNI. This includes PSNI civilian workers, members of the judiciary and others, as well as ex-members of the police service," the police statement said. Looks like Jerry's & Martins getting their way....again!!!