Gun licences may last for 10 years, not 5

by GCN on 09-03-2022

The horrific shootings in Keyham, Plymouth last summer demonstrated the inadequacies of the gun licensing system. The police clearly do not have the resources to do a ‘proper job’ of assessing the suitability of gun owners, and nearly everyone recognises that something needs to be done.

In a bizarre response to the Plymouth tragedy, the Government is considering increasing the time a gun licence lasts from 5 years to 10.

A small minority, 3% of the population, have a gun licence, but these powerful lobbyists are succeeding in watering down the licensing reforms that need to be introduced to protect the public.

They want to strike a bargain with the Government by offering to pay an increased fee – still not full cost recovery – in exchange for licences that last for 10 years, not 5.

In the view of the Gun Control Network, a ‘proper job’ of vetting an applicant would involve close, regular liaison with other agencies who hold information about an applicant’s mental health, drug/alcohol abuse and criminality. It would also involve consultation with those who know the applicant best – their partners, ex-partners and members of their household. To do this only every 10 years is absurd.

The responsibility for issuing a gun licence resides with the police and should not be shuffled off to the medical profession or another agency. The police have the powers and the systems to monitor gun owners and should be given all the necessary resources to do so.

Gill Marshall-Andrews, Chair of the Gun Control Network says:

”10 years is far too long for a gun licence to last. GCN has advocated 2 years as the appropriate duration of a licence. A lot can happen to someone in that short period and circumstances can change completely in 10 years. The shooters are hoping that. by paying a bit more for their licence. they will  be able to put the responsibility for regular monitoring onto another agency that they will not have to pay for.

These people are adept at influencing government policy in their own interests and to the detriment of public safety.“