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Voice of the Countryside - Graham Downing on British gun laws

PUBLISHED: 01:56 24 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:36 21 February 2013

Voice of the Countryside - Graham Downing on British gun laws

Voice of the Countryside - Graham Downing on British gun laws

Britain's gun laws are again in the news, and for all the wrong reasons. It is generally accepted that our firearms legislation is some of the toughest in the world, but it is also some of the most complex. Find out more here...

Britains gun laws are again in the news, and

for all the wrong reasons. It is generally

accepted that our firearms legislation is some

of the toughest in the world, but it is also

some of the most complex.

When a committee of MPs looked at the subject in 2010,

they agreed that the level of controls on guns was about

right, but the law needed to be made less confusing so

that the public in particular those who hold shotgun or

firearm certificates could understand it better.

There is another very good reason for simplifying gun

laws. With more pressure on public expenditure than at

any time most of us can remember, the police, who

administer the grant and renewal of certificates for gun

owners, must be allowed to focus upon their core

responsibility, which is to protect the public.

Instead of having to count the number of cartridges a

farmer has in his gun safe or determine which rifle a

gamekeeper may use in order to control pests, they should

be making better background checks on applicants.

Instead of licensing guns, they should be licensing people.

The shooting community is braced for a significant

increase in the cost of their firearms licences, but if higher

charges are to come, then they must be accompanied by

greater police efficiency and modern technology. We apply

for and pay for our vehicle licences online because it saves

money. Whats wrong with applying some simple IT to a

gun licensing system thats still mired in police paperwork

dating back to the 1960s?

Three years ago, a number of administrative changes to

the law were agreed between the police and the shooting

associations. If put into effect, these proposals would

make the law simpler without making it any less effective,

but unfortunately they are now gathering dust on a shelf in

the Home Office. It is time that they were looked at once

again, so that the money which both shooters and the

public spend on ensuring that the sport of shooting is

lawful and safe can be spent more effectively

Britains gun laws are again in the news, and for all the wrong reasons.


It is generally accepted that our firearms legislation is some of the toughest in the world, but it is also some of the most complex. When a committee of MPs looked at the subject in 2010, they agreed that the level of controls on guns was about right, but the law needed to be made less confusing so that the public in particular those who hold shotgun or firearm certificates could understand it better.There is another very good reason for simplifying gun laws.

With more pressure on public expenditure than at any time most of us can remember, the police, who administer the grant and renewal of certificates for gun owners, must be allowed to focus upon their co-reresponsibility, which is to protect the public. Instead of having to count the number of cartridges a farmer has in his gun safe or determine which rifle a gamekeeper may use in order to control pests, they should be making better background checks on applicants. Instead of licensing guns, they should be licensing people.

The shooting community is braced for a significant increase in the cost of their firearms licences, but if higher charges are to come, then they must be accompanied by greater police efficiency and modern technology. We apply for and pay for our vehicle licences online because it saves money. Whats wrong with applying some simple IT to a gun licensing system thats still mired in police paperwork dating back to the 1960s? Three years ago, a number of administrative changes to the law were agreed between the police and the shooting associations. If put into effect, these proposals would make the law simpler without making it any less effective, but unfortunately they are now gathering dust on a shelf in the Home Office. It is time that they were looked at once again, so that the money which both shooters and the public spend on ensuring that the sport of shooting is lawful and safe can be spent more effectively.



Graham Downing is a countryman, living on his own small arable farmthat is managed for wildlife and conservation. He enjoys keeping sheepand has a particular passion for shooting sports. He has written for thecountryside press for 30 years and is well known to the readers ofThe Field, Shooting Times and a variety of other magazines.


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