Robust gun licensing costs money

by Gun Control Network on 02-09-2021


“The Plymouth tragedy is evidence of a gun licensing system that is broken because it is grotesquely underfunded. Everyone agrees that ‘something must be done’, but that’s where the agreement stops. 

The shooters and their supporters in government and parliament stress the danger of a ‘knee jerk reaction’ to ‘one-off events’. This is what they always say. They said it after Hungerford in 1987, Dunblane in 1996, Cumbria in 2010 and Horden in 2012, indeed they say it every time there is a multiple fatal shooting involving a licensed gunman. 

What they really mean is that we should do as little as possible in the face of short-term public outrage. They cannot countenance the idea of a properly funded, robust licensing system that will reduce the risk of another mass killing. Why? Because that would be more expensive and onerous for the gun owners. In the meantime, they wish the necessary checks on their ownership of guns to be subsidised by the taxpayer. 

In 2013 the full cost of issuing a 5-year licence was estimated by police to be £200, and with inflation we might reasonably assume this has now risen to £250. That’s £50 per annum, yet at present it costs less than £16 a year to license as many shotguns as you like, and less than £10 a year for a renewal.  By contrast, it costs £80 a year to fish on the River Dart and around £1000 for a day’s grouse shooting with champagne in Scotland. 

Were licences to last for 2 years instead of 5, an altogether safer option, and both application and renewal fees sufficient for full cost recovery, the income to the police each year for licensing approximately 650,000 gun owners would be £81 million (£125 x 650,000). With a sum like that available a proper robust licensing system could be enacted, and we would all be safer. 

Gun Control Network has been raising this issue repeatedly with the Home Office for over eight years. The very least the Government should do in its response to this latest tragedy is belatedly to prioritise public safety over the convenience of the shooters and raise the licence fees to an appropriate level.”