HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT ON FIREARMS CONTROL

22 December 2010

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 possess firearms;

·       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.

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