Gun law probe sees no knee-jerk changes

Plans to make shotgun owners prove ‘good reason’ in licence applications and to tag their medical records have been ditched, but licence fees might be hiked, after the government’s probe into gun laws.

MPs threw out every proposal for restricting lawful shooting, after the HAC (Home Affairs Committee), set up in the wake of last year’s Cumbrian shootings, gave its report to the government.

Shooting groups welcomed the government’s ‘no knee-jerk’ reaction, after it agreed more new laws would just add to confusion and pledged to publish updated and revised information explaining the current legislation instead.

The HAC report recommended changing the law to a single licensing system for section one firearms and shotguns, because it believed shotgun owners should not be exempt from proving good cause and a single system would be more straightforward and cheaper for police. But the government said a change was unnecessary, because there was no evidence of significant misuse of legally-held shotguns.

It also threw out plans for “tags” on medical records; restrictions on young shooters; central storage for guns and air gun licences.

MPs also agreed police licensing guidance urgently needed updating and said they would publish clearer information, including an online guide.

The jury was also out on some issues causing concern to shooting groups, including increases in licence fees; the requirement for current or previous domestic partners to sign licence applications; closer links between shooters’ GPs and police and the effect of police budget cuts.

The HAC said police cuts were a big issue because recent improvements like more home visits, which it said should be made compulsory, might be affected so licence fees should be increased from the current £50. The government denied spending cuts would affect licensing but said figures were being looked at to decide on fee increases.

The CA and BASC said issues of licensing departments’ efficiency and service should be addressed before any fee increase could be justified.

A spokesperson for BASC said it was delighted at the government’s measured and sensible view.

Both the CA and BASC said that overall they welcomed the government’s sensible response to the report.

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