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Firearms legislation – Whitehaven probe clears police licensing procedures

The review of Cumbria police?s gun licensing procedures prompted by the Whitehaven shootings was published last week. It found that the constabulary followed the legal procedures correctly in granting Derrick Bird certificates for a side-by-side hammerlock shotgun and a .22 rifle which he used to shoot his victims and concluded that no reasonable opportunities within the gun licensing system could have prevented him from killing 12 people.

In his review, the chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers, (ACPO) Firearms and Licensing Working Group Adrian Whiting wrote: The details of these circumstances do not give rise to any immediately obvious changes that need to be made either in Cumbria Constabulary or in law, such as would have readily prevented the offences from being committed. However, he went on to suggest a number of changes that may usefully improve public safety overall.

Mr Whiting recommended that people who receive wholly suspended sentences of jail terms of three months or more would in future be automatically classed as a prohibited person and banned from holding a gun licence for five years. In 1990, Derrick Bird was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, after he was convicted of two counts of theft and one count of handling stolen goods. Mr Whiting wrote: I cannot say it would have made a difference in this case, but it would have been another significant factor to take into account.

The rest of this article appears in 10th November issue of Shooting Times.

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