Suggestions by the Labour opposition that shotgun certificate holders should have to “prove their suitability” to own a firearm in future are an unwarranted attack on the 600,000 shotgun certificate holders in the UK and completely unworkable, says the Countryside Alliance.
In a statement outlining Labour amendments to the anti-social behaviour crime and policing bill yesterday (14 October), shadow crime and security minister Diana Johnson said her party wishes to strengthen firearms licensing, with an increased fee for licences and to “shift the onus to the applicant to prove their suitability”.
Countryside Alliance director of campaigns Tim Bonner said: “Firearms licence holders understand that gun ownership in the UK is a responsibility, not a right and generally accept the justification for some of the strictest gun control laws in the world.
“A review of police guidance to strengthen the test of ‘fitness’ to possess firearms, is being undertaken by the Home Office and ACPO, with the full support of the shooting associations.
“These new proposals from the Labour Party are, therefore, completely unjustified and together will be seen as an attack on the legitimate shooting community.
“Of particular concern is the suggestion that over 600,000 shotgun certificate holders should have to ‘prove their suitability’ to own a shotgun. Although Labour does not say how these assessments of fitness would be made it can only be an unjustified burden on a law-abiding minority and threaten the future of an industry that is worth £1.6 billion a year and employs 60k people.”
The Countryside Alliance is not opposed to an increase in the licence fee, but it needs to be accompanied by a better service to those applying for a licence. Numerous inefficiencies exist within the current licensing system.