The Gun Control Network welcomes many of the Committee’s
recommendations but is disappointed that it has baulked at confronting
some of the country’s major gun related problems.
Almost all mass shootings in industrialised countries – including
Hungerford, Dunblane and more recently Cumbria - involve licensed gun
owners. The lone mass murderer is almost always a man who loves his
guns and acquired them perfectly legally. We are delighted that this
has been recognised and we hope the Government will now tighten up the
licensing process which has become too routine and slack.
Those of our recommendations that have been accepted are:
a single system up to Section 1 standard for shotguns and firearms;
no offenders (for offences carrying a prison sentence) allowed to
domestic partners, and ex-partners, to be consulted;
GPs to be notified;
mandatory checks for mental health, alcohol and drug abuse;
no cost to the taxpayer or the police for the licensing process - fee
to cover all administration.
We are disappointed that the Committee has rejected our suggestion
that licenses be renewed more frequently e.g. every 2 years instead of
the current 5 years.
We had also hoped the Committee would recommend more openness in the
licensing system, so that those with good reason to want to know if
there is a gun in a house - e.g. paramedics, care workers, parents of
visiting children – can find out. We also recommended a ‘hotline’ for
people to register their concerns about gun owners but this is not
considered in the report.
We also believe that the Committee has been too cautious with respect
to air weapons. Around 50% of all gun crime involves airguns, and we
are disappointed that the Committee effectively kicked the issue of
airgun registration into the long grass. It is our view that so long
as air weapons are treated as distinct from other firearms the
impression will remain that they are not dangerous. There should be
no further delay in treating these weapons in the same way as other
lethal firearms. Once there is a single rigorous licensing system in
place we can see no reason why airguns should not in included.