Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

Written evidence from the Gun Control Network (ASB 19)

We welcome and support clauses 100,101,102 in the Bill.

However, we regret that the government has lost an opportunity to introduce several more important and transforming measures to improve public safety and reduce anti social behaviour.

1. The widespread misuse of unlicensed airguns is a scourge on communities up and down the country. It is a major element of anti-social behaviour. In 2011-12, 37 percent of all firearm offences were committed with airguns, the most commonly used firearm in crime, and around 400 people were injured, many of them seriously. The solution to this problem is to license airguns as Scotland is in the process of doing. This measure could be introduced gradually starting with the purchase of new airguns, amnesties for old and unwanted weapons and working towards general licensing of airguns over a 2 or 3 year period.

2. Improvements to the Sec 1 and shotgun licensing processes so as to ensure that people with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and mental illness are prevented from owning guns. For this to happen it will be necessary to consult family members, tag the medical records of gun owners and place a duty on all health professionals, gun club owners, teachers and social workers to report the inappropriate behaviour of a gun owner.

3. Immediately introduce full cost recovery for firearms and shotgun licence applications. At a conservative estimate, the taxpayer is subsidising legal gun owners to the tune of £100m over 5 years. The current cost of a licence is £50 and this does not allow for proper investigations to be conducted at the time of application or renewal.

4. Many victims’ families say that a hotline allowing people to register their concerns over a gun owner’s behaviour could have prevented a tragedy. The establishment of such a phone line would help to remove guns from unsuitable people.

5. There is currently a tradition of secrecy surrounding gun ownership and gun crime which is not conducive to public safety and proper analysis. It is difficult to get information about the circumstances of gun misuse and what action the police have taken. There should be a presumption of Freedom of Information in this matter.

June 2013

Prepared 28th June 2013