Labour MP Diana Johnson, Shadow Home Office Minister for Crime and Security, caused a great deal of confusion when she pledged shooting would be safe in Labour’s hands and – just a fortnight later – threatened the biggest change to firearms law for almost 20 years.
In an interview with Shooting Times, Ms Johnson sought to clarify her position.
Ms Johnson explained that when she said the onus should be on applicants to prove their suitability, she meant people with a history of domestic violence, mental health issues, drug problems, alcohol abuse and other “serious problems”.
“It’s about this particular change in law, not about law-abiding citizens,” she said.
And when Ms Johnson revealed Labour was proposing the “biggest change to firearms legislation since handguns ban in 1998”, she was actually referring to an amendment to the Antisocial Bill that would prevent anyone with a history of domestic violence from being granted a licence.
Ms Johnson says the Labour Party isn’t looking for a new Firearms Act but is pursuing an increase in license fees.
“The shooting community is important and I think that at the moment, with the licensing regime we have, they are not getting a particularly great service overall,” she said. “Equally, I think the shooting community will accept that it is going to have to pay a bit more. Exactly what that is has to be worked out.”