Purge on rifles and shotguns

A fresh drive against firearms, including tighter restrictions on the use of rifles, shotguns, and airguns, is to be launched by the Government. The move is expected to provoke a second battle with the powerful shooting lobby, which mounted a ferocious campaign against the outlawing of revolvers and pistols, introduced as a response to the Dunblane massacre.

Among the likely government proposals will be the introduction of an age limit of 18 on the use of shotguns, as well as making it harder for people to own the weapons. This would prevent young gun-users, such as Prince William, 15, and Prince Harry, 12, from shooting.

Other measures likely to be introduced are a licensing system for airguns, which currently are unregulated, and a ban on most rifles above .22 calibre. The review may also consider a clampdown on replica weapons and mail-order sales.

Signalling an inevitable clash between ministers and gun enthusiasts, a shooting group denounced the possible moves against rifles and shotguns as a "disaster", which it would oppose.

The Home Office is to carry out a review of the existing firearm laws, once the ban on handguns comes into place later this year. A government source said: "We want to look at further firearms control, such as the use of airguns and the age limits. The age limits, or lack of them, are fairly bizarre at the moment. There is also the question of having some form of licensing for airguns, as currently there is no checking system."

The review is likely to start early next year. "Ministers will want to know what is further needed. This will include taking evidence from the police," said the source.

Senior police officers have expressed their disquiet with the licensing of shotguns. The Tory government caused a nationwide revolt among firearm users when it introduced a ban on 160,000 large calibre handguns. Fresh anger was caused by Labour's decision to extend the ban to the remaining 40,000 less powerful revolvers.

Alun Michael, a Home Office minister, in a letter to the Liberal Democrat MP Matthew Taylor, has provided further evidence of the Government's intention to take action. In his letter, dated last Sunday, Mr Michael referred to an incident brought to his attention by Mr Taylor, in which a window was broken by an airgun. Mr Michael wrote: "I agree that this needs looking at again." He said no action could be taken while the current gun legislation was going through Parliament, but added: "I can tell you that, when the handgun issue has been settled, we will look at what other firearms controls are needed to safeguard the public. We will examine the law on airguns as part of that exercise."

There are an estimated 200,000 licensed rifles in England and Wales, nearly 1.4 million licensed shotguns and around 3 million airguns. At present, there is no minimum age for holding a shotgun certificate. The Government is likely to push for a minimum age of 18, or even 21. The licensing laws are also expected to be tightened.

To obtain a shotgun certificate, which can be used to hold an unlimited number of weapons, an applicant needs either to be a landowner or a member of a club at which the gun can be fired. The signature of a "respectable" person is also required. The police can object if they have reason, although in 1994 only 220 licence applications for all firearms were turned down.

The certificate system may be changed to incorporate the more rigorous rules used for rifles, and shotgun owners may be forced to have a separate certificate for each gun. On the question of rifles, the Government is expected to propose a ban on all weapons above .22 calibre, except for use in exceptional circumstances, such as deer stalking.

Janet George, spokeswoman of the British Field Sports Society, said her organisation would try and prevent any restrictions of shotgun or rifle control.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a security software com...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing / Sales Co-ordinator - OTE £25,000+

£10000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of staffing and r...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen Porter

£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the four inns of Court is seeking...

Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the four inns of Court i...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?