The Home Affairs Select Committee had its final evidence session last week in which it examined the need for changes to the way in which firearm and shotgun certificates are issued, monitored or reviewed as a means of preventing gun violence.

The committee heard first from the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS). Matt Lewis, acting head of knowledge and communications, confirmed that the ?vast majority? of crimes involving firearms are carried out with illegally held guns. ?We don?t suspect there are many legally held weapons that are being crossed over and used in crime and then going back into legal possession,? he said. ?We think it is much more likely that a shotgun, for example, is stolen, then maybe shortened and used in crime.?

Mr Lewis referred to a ?small number of weapons? that were used repeatedly. ?They are put through a middleman, a person within a community, who will loan or lease them to others,? he said. ?The impact on the community is great, but actually the number of firearms available to criminals is very low.?

Next to face the committee was Assistant Chief Constable Adrian Whiting of Dorset Police, representing the Association of Chief Police Officers. He agreed that there were concerns that police budget cuts would bring pressure on the firearms licensing process, particularly regarding home visits on grant and renewal. He said: ?I don?t foresee a wholesale collapse in relation to this, but I do see that there is a risk of erosion around some of the practices that we currently recommend.”

The rest of this article appears in 24th November issue of Shooting Times.

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