Express & Star

Police in region have revoked hundred of firearms licences

Police revoked the rights of gun owners in the Black Country and Staffordshire hundreds of times over the last decade, figures show.

STAFFORD STEVE LEATH COPYRIGHT EXPRESS AND STAR 18/10/2014 Pic near Shugborough Hall at Oakedge Park, new shop 'Whites' run by Charlotte White 29, brother: Matthew White 25 and stocking some guns made by there dad: Tony White 56. They live at Shugborough. These are the three people pictured in various shots..

West Midlands officers have approved 6,138 applications since 2008 but revoked 325 licences and refused 40 applications for renewal. In Staffordshire, 8,708 applications have been approved, while 289 licences were revoked and 33 applications for renewal denied.

The figures come after the recent mass shooting in Plymouth, which has increased scrutiny on gun ownership laws.

Police forces across England and Wales have been urged to review their firearm application processes following the tragedy.

Jake Davison

Jake Davison killed five and wounded two others after having his gun licence reinstated just months after it was revoked following his involvement in a fight.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

Home Office figures show West Midlands Police revoked 15 licences and refused to renew three in the year to March, while Staffordshire Police revoked 16 and refused to renew one.

In the same period, the West Midlands force approved 158 new applications for firearm or shotgun licences but refused permission in five cases. Staffordshire Police approved 307 applications but refused permission in one case.

Five people were shot dead in Plymouth

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 28,158 in West Mercia.

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 (BASC) 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.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “The mass shooting in Plymouth was a tragic incident and, as such, my thoughts rest solely with the victims and their families and friends.

“Gun licensing laws are, however, a vital tool that help keep us all safe.

“The government is rightly looking at what more can be done to tighten these regulations so only people who have passed the most stringent checks can own a firearm.

“While some are critical that a review of gun licensing procedures is too late for the victims in Plymouth, I would back reform.

“I would also ask that the full costs of gun licence applications are carried by applicants. At the moment some of the licensing costs have to be absorbed by the police, which takes vital resources away from the front line. It’s not right that taxpayers are subsidising gun ownership.”

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 Thursday’s 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."

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