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
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

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Recruitment Genius: Inside Sales Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Join a worldwide leader in data-driven marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Adviser - Sales and Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a desire to help sm...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Support - Helpdesk Analyst

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a customer focu...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn