gun policy summary
Since our formation in 1996 our successes have included:
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
be replaced by a Firearms Advisory Committee.
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.
Controls over Airgun
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.
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
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.