One gun, one licence

by Gun Control Network on 13-11-2023

For the price of four cups of coffee a year (£16) shooters can legally own an arsenal of shotguns. Indeed, a year ago, one government Home Office minister was advocating ten-year gun licences, costing the equivalent of just two cups of coffee a year. 

Shotgun licences are currently fixed at £80 for a five-year licence. The average number of guns held by licence holders is around three. There is no upper limit on the number.  Bearing in mind that the perpetrators of multiple murders often have arsenals of weapons and demonstrate an ‘unhealthy’ interest in guns, measures to address this issue are of significant relevance to public safety.

Historically, shotguns are licensed differently from rifles and high-powered air weapons because they have been regarded as less dangerous. However, in 2015, the Law Commission defined lethal guns as having a muzzle power of one joule or more and shotguns are, under that definition, clearly lethal.  Indeed, many families know only too well just how lethal shotguns are. Families from Hungerford to Horden, Plymouth to Skye, have suffered the horrific consequences of inadequate licensing of shotguns.

For many years, GCN has been advocating that all lethal weapons should be licensed under Sec 1 of the Firearms Act of 1968, as rifles currently are. This would involve each gun being licensed separately. The double benefit of this arrangement in terms of public safety would be the funding raised from the shooters themselves, rather than from the taxpayer, to improve the licensing system and the likely reduction in the number of lethal guns in circulation.

Gill Marshall-Andrews says:

“The gun lobby has always fiercely resisted sensible measures to control guns and BASC has reacted swiftly to the North Wales PCC Andy Dunbobbin’s alleged comments regarding a ‘one gun one licence’ regime discussion.  Since the horrific Plymouth shootings in August 2021, coroners, Select Committees, MPs, senior police officers and victims’ families have called for such a reform of the licensing system but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. A consultation on these matters was held but has still to report. Only minor changes have been announced which will do little to make the public safer. Any government that wishes to focus on law and order would do well to consider this eminently sensible measure.”