After the fatal shooting of 12 people in Cumbria earlier this year by Derrick Bird, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee announced that it would undertake an investigation into firearms control in the UK.

In particular, the inquiry would examine the extent to which legally-held guns are used in criminal activity, and whether the current laws governing air weapons and firearms licensing are fit for purpose.

The committee?s report, released today, recommends that:

?rather than adding new rules and greater confusion, the Government provides proposals for early consultation on how to codify and simplify the laws which govern the control of firearms.

?there should be both tighter restrictions and clearer guidance on the granting of firearms and shotgun licences to individuals who have engaged in criminal activity, including those in receipt of wholly suspended sentences.

?the Canadian requirement for partners and recent ex-partners to sign licence application forms merits further exploration.

?there is a change in the law to create a single system for the licensing of section 1 firearms and shotguns, based upon the current process for granting licences for section 1 firearms.

?home visits undertaken for renewal applications should be compulsory.

?the Home Office should consider raising the current £50 licensing fee.

?the life of a proportion of certificates should be extended in order to remove the peaks and troughs created when the renewal period was extended to five years.

?the Government brings forward proposals to simplify and clarify the age at which an individual is permitted to shoot. The committee believes that there is no good reason to maintain the current differences in age restrictions between section 1 firearms and shotguns.

?deactivated guns are only sold through Registered Firearms Dealers.

There will be a debate on firearms control in the main chamber of the House of Commons later today. Full coverage of the HAC report and today?s debate will appear in 5 January issue of Shooting Times.

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