The Gun Control Network launches its new interactive website

by Gun Control Network on 17-03-2016


The Gun Control Network (GCN) was launched in 1996 after the terrible tragedy in Dunblane and has been campaigning for tighter controls on guns for 20 years. During that time the law, culture and ethos surrounding the ownership of guns has changed dramatically.

In 1996:

  • shooters claimed that “pistol shooting is the fastest growing sport” and “gun ownership is a right”.
  • the country’s chief police officer had claimed it was “inevitable that we will have a fully armed police force”.

It appeared that Britain was ‘heading down the American road’, with more guns inevitably bringing more gun violence.

Today, we can mark the changes that have been brought about by successive Labour, Conservative and Coalition governments since that awful day when a gunman took his four lawfully-held handguns to Dunblane Primary School, killed 16 small children and their teacher and seriously injured many others.


The significant developments have included:

1997 – a complete ban on the civilian ownership of handguns.

2006 – a ban on the manufacture, transfer and sale of realistic imitation guns.

2006 – a requirement for airguns to be bought only through Registered Firearms Dealers.

2010 – a requirement for airguns to be stored in such a way as to prevent unauthorised access by people under 18.

2012 – new guidance to police on firearms licensing, prohibiting people with a record of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse or mental illness from getting a gun licence.

2014 – registration of airguns in Scotland (to be introduced in 2016).

2015 – a report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary on firearms licensing recognising that ownership of guns is a privilege, not a right, that the taxpayer should not be subsidising the cost of gun licensing and that the police are servants of the public not the shooting community.

2015 – a report from the Law Commission recommending a definition of ‘lethal’ as having one joule of power (although it does not recommend that all lethal weapons are licensed).

2016 – a scheme in which, from April, GPs will record firearms licence applications on their patients’ notes and be required to notify the police of any factors which might be of concern.

2016 – a Gun Safety Line, to be opened by Crimestoppers, which anyone can use to register their concerns about a gun owner, whether legal or illegal.


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

“Many people have been involved in the gun control movement in the last 20 years, but the people we owe most to are the victims, families and survivors of gun violence whose courage and dignity have shamed those shooters who resisted tighter controls.

To people like Tony Hill (whose daughter was killed with legally held guns in Hungerford in 1987), Mick North (whose daughter was one of the children killed with legally held guns in Dunblane in 1996), Jayne Atkinson (whose son was killed by his cousin with an airgun in 1999), Bobby Turnbull (whose mother, sister and aunt were killed with a legally held gun in Horden in 2012), Andrew Foster (whose brother killed his wife and daughter and all his animals with legally held guns in Shropshire in 2008), and Stacy Banner (whose mother and sister were killed with legally held guns in Surrey in 2014).

Thanks to these and many others we have come a long way since 1996. Together we have busted the myth that gun violence is always about illegal guns and gangs in cities. But there is still work to do. We know that the tide of public opinion in the UK is, and always has been, with us in our campaign to restrict gun ownership.

As we launch our new interactive website today we celebrate the achievements of two decades of campaigning to keep our country safe and ensure we never ‘head down the American road’“.