Voice of the Countryside - Graham Downing on British gun laws
PUBLISHED: 01:56 24 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:36 21 February 2013
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 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.