Hundreds of Northumberland gun owners have firearm licences revoked

Police have revoked the rights of gun owners in Northumberland more than 500 times in 13 years, figures show.

By Amanda Bourn
Friday, 20th August 2021, 12:01 pm
Flowers left in the Keyham area of Plymouth where six people, including the offender, died of gunshot wounds in a firearms incident last week.
Flowers left in the Keyham area of Plymouth where six people, including the offender, died of gunshot wounds in a firearms incident last week.

Following the recent mass shooting in Plymouth, police forces across England and Wales have been urged to review their firearm application processes.

Jake Davison killed five and wounded two others after having his gun licence reinstated just months after it was revoked following his involvement in a fight.

In light of the gunman's deadly attack, the government is calling on forces to review their current vetting processes and look at whether they need to revisit existing licences.

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Home Office figures show Northumbria Police revoked 14 licences and refused to renew five in the year to March.

In the same period, the force approved 285 new applications for firearm or shotgun licences, but refused permission in five cases.

Since 2008, when recording began, officers have approved 7,457 applications but revoked 534 licences and refused 106 applications for renewal.

A firearms certificate can be revoked for several reasons, including if a holder presents a danger to the public, is of "intemperate habits or unsound mind", no longer has a good reason to possess a firearm or has failed to comply with conditions under which the certificate is held.

The data shows that more than 560,000 people across England and Wales held shotgun or firearm licences in March, including 9,092 in Northumbria.

The government is now preparing to publish statutory guidance in an effort to ensure "greater consistency and higher standards" of decision-making around firearms licensing.

Changes are likely to include greater scrutiny of an applicant's internet and social media use. But the British Association for Shooting and Conservation says the process has taken too long, with a spokesman adding that the organisation had warned successive Government ministers of deadly consequences if stricter vetting processes were not implemented.

BASC is calling on the government to introduce a statutory obligation that would see a marker included on medical notes indicating whether a patient had access to guns.

Christopher Graffius, from BASC, said: "I have been calling for this since 2013 and have told ministers that we would end up with people dead, likely women."

He added: "It is in the shooting community's interest to ensure public safety and it is absolutely awful to see tragedies like this."

Gill Marshall-Andrews of the Gun Control Network said most licensed gun owners were law abiding, adding: "But what is clear is that the more guns there are in circulation the greater the chance of an atrocity like this one in Plymouth.

"We need much more oversight of gun owners in this country."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Incidents such as the horrific events in Plymouth are thankfully rare, but their impact is profound, not only on those directly affected but on the public as a whole.

"We constantly assess what sensible and proportionate steps we can take to help prevent such terrible loss of life happening."

In a deadly spree which lasted six minutes, Davison killed two women – including his mother – two men and a three-year-old girl.

He also shot two other people who continue to receive treatment in hospital. Hethen turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.