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Since our formation in 1996 our successes have included:

Handguns

Our first campaign was for a complete ban on handguns.  This was fiercely resisted by all the shooting organisations who claimed that pistol shooting was the fastest growing sport in the country and could not be tampered with.

However, public revulsion to the killing of 16 small children and their teacher in Dunblane Primary School was so extreme that successive governments could not ignore it.

In February 1997 John Major’s Conservative government introduced legislation to ban handguns over .22 calibre and in November 1997, the new Labour government extended the ban to cover all handguns.

The significance of this legislation cannot be overestimated.  It sent a message throughout the UK and the world, that governments can and will take tough action to stem the rising tide of violence in society and turn decisively away from the growing gun culture.

Gun control campaigners all over the word have taken heart from this legislation.  It has set a new ‘gold standard’ and proved that good governments acting in the interests of the many not the few can overcome the rich and powerful gun lobby.

Firearms Consultative Committee

We also were, for some months, the lone voice for gun control on the Firearms Consultative Committee.  This body is statutorily constituted to give advice to the Home Secretary about firearms matters and has in the past been instrumental in the gradual erosion of regulations and the easing of certification procedures for shooters.  It consisted of representatives of all the various shooting organisations and the police.  GCN campaigned for the abolition of the FCC or its radical reconstitution.  Our aim was to ensure that, if it continued to exist, it should represent the interests of victims, the medical profession, community groups and the wider public, not just the police and the shooters.  We now know that the new composition of the FCC is a marginal improvement on the old, but it is far from being truly representative of the interested population.

The FCC has now been disbanded and will be replaced by a Firearms Advisory Committee.

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Internet Gun Sales

GCN members monitor the advertising and sale of guns on the internet, an insufficiently regulated loophole through which weapons can easily fall into the wrong hands.  GCN alerted e-Bay to the fact that despite company policy gun sales were taking place through its auction site.  Subsequent discussions with e-Bay staff have ensured that the company has improved its policing procedures and the virtual elimination of all appearances of guns for sale on its site.

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Controls over Airgun Sales

Along with other campaigners GCN members have been lobbying the Government to place more restrictions on the availability and use of air weapons.  The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 now requires that the purchase of all airguns must be face-to-face through Registered Firearms Dealers (RFDs), a measure implemented on 1 October 2007.

On the issue of airgun storage there has been some success too. The Crime and Security Act 2010 requires airgun owners to store their weapons in such a way as to prevent unauthorised access by people under 18.

Imitation Guns

One of GCN's most sustained campaigns has been to convince the Government to introduce a ban on imitation guns.  The number of offences involving this type of weapon has increased enormously and their use accounts for a significant proportion of gun crime.  The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 has now banned the manufacture, import and purchase of imitation guns which is exactly what GCN has sought since our campaign began in 2001.  This measure was introduced on 1 October 2007, but the Government has allowed defences that create a loophole permitting some of the most realistic imitation guns to remain available (see News Items & Comment).

International Activities

Besides achieving a handgun ban in the UK, GCN has worked closely with colleagues in other countries to share information and strategy.

In February 1997 GCN hosted the first ever meeting of gun control campaigners from around the world.  It has resulted in close and continuing co-operation between groups who have very different aims and who function in different cultural contexts but who share the common purpose of tightening gun controls worldwide.

Since then GCN has made presentations at various conferences and workshops of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and spoken in support of emerging gun control groups in Europe and Turkey.  We are also founder members of IANSA (International Action Network on Small Arms), a body launched by a large group of NGOs in May 1999 to enhance the security of populations by preventing the proliferation and misuse of small arms and GCN members have participated in the Control Arms campaign for a global Arms Trade Treaty.

The success of the Control Arms campaign has led to the approval by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 of a resolution that could lead to an international treaty on controlling the trade in guns and other small arms.