20 December 1999
Tighten shotgun rules, Home Office told
THE Home Offices firearms consultative committee has recommended to the home secretary that shotguns should be regarded as “class one” firearms, the same as rifles and handguns.
The recommendation means there could be tighter controls on the ownership of shotguns on the way.
The move is likely to provoke a backlash in the countryside, where sports campaigners are already fighting plans to ban hunting.
The committee concluded that shooters should prove “good reasons” for owning their shotguns.
It has also recommended that police should inspect land on which shooters plan to use their weapons.
At present, shotgun owners do not require a firearms licence and only require a special certificate, which is easier to obtain.
Shotgun owners can shoot on almost any land with the owners permission if they possess a valid certificate.
The Countryside Alliance has warned that almost 40% of shooters could be forced to give up their sport if the government adopts the measure.
There are more than 620,000 shotgun licence holders in the country with 1.3 million shotguns between them.
Earlier this year, a conference organised by mental health charity Mind was told that tighter controls on shotgun ownership on farms could cut the number of suicides among farmers.
Farmers were the fourth highest risk group and 40% of those who killed themselves did so with their own shotguns.