U.K.'s Gun Control Laws Are `Complex and Confused,' Lawmaker Panel Says
The U.K.’s 34 laws governing the control of guns are “complex and confused,” placing an “onerous burden” on police and firearms owners, a panel of lawmakers said.
In a report published today, Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee said well-designed legislation that regulates and restricts the legal supply of firearms would help to reduce gun crime. The cross-party panel recommended introducing one licensing system to cover all firearms that require a license.
While the majority of gun-related crimes aren’t committed with licensed firearms, the committee expressed concern about the use of legally owned weapons in domestic shootings. It recommended tighter police restrictions on the granting of licences to individuals who have engaged in crime.
“The terrible murders perpetrated by Derrick Bird in June highlighted gaps in the current licensing regime, notably around the ease with which convicted criminals can gain access to firearms,” Committee Chairman Keith Vaz, an opposition Labour Party lawmaker, said in an e-mailed statement. “We have heard evidence of further cases in which individuals applying to obtain a license for firearms have lied about their mental health problems and have subsequently gone on to misuse their weapons.”
Bird, a taxi driver, carried out the worst mass shooting in Britain in 14 years when he went on the rampage in Cumbria, northwest England, slaying 12 people before killing himself.
There was a case for requiring the police to consult the domestic partners of applicants in making the decision whether to grant a license, while raising the fees charged so that it covers the costs of licensing, the panel said.
“Public protection is the first duty of any government and our firearms laws are among the toughest in the world,” Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said in response to the report. “It is right that we keep them under review and we are prepared to tighten them further if necessary. Those controls must also be proportionate and fair.”
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