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Home Affairs report calls for restrictions on shooting

Recommendations contained in the recently published Home Affairs Committee?s report on firearms control have been criticised by the Countryside Alliance, which said that they would penalise the law-abiding shooting community.

Among many proposals, the report said that the age at which an individual is permitted to shoot should be simplified and clarified, that a requirement for partners and recent ex-partners to sign licence application forms merits further exploration, and that the Home Office should consider raising the current licensing fee.

But Robert Gray, the Countryside Alliance?s campaigns director, said: ?Proposed restrictions on shotgun owners and young shooters, and the broad-brush involvement of GPs, domestic partners and increased licence fees would be hugely disproportionate. We will strongly resist any recommendations brought forward that penalise law-abiding shooters without improving public safety and preventing criminals from breaking the law.?

The committee set up its inquiry after the fatal shooting of 12 people in Cumbria last year by Derrick Bird.

Members were tasked with examining the extent to which legally held guns were used in criminal activity, and whether or not the current laws governing airguns and firearms licensing were fit for purpose.

BASC was more positive about the report.

Its director of firearms, Bill Harriman, said: ?We welcome the rejection of tagging every firearms certificate holder?s medical records, and the dismissal of proposals to require guns and ammunition to be kept outside the home. However, this is not the end of the battle to secure effective law that serves both public safety and firearms users.?

The report?s proposals include recommendations that:

– Rather than adding new rules and greater confusion, the Government provides proposals for early consultation on how to codify and simplify the laws that govern firearm control.

– There should be tighter restrictions on the granting of firearms and shotgun licences to individuals who have engaged in criminal activity.

– 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 £50 licensing fee.

– The life of a proportion of certificates should be extended 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 believed 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.

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