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
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'