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Gun owners face tougher checks

Police will have to visit every gun owner to assess their mental state before renewing licences, under tougher new rules to be introduced in the wake of Derrick Bird's killing spree in Cumbria.

Ministers have ordered a swift tightening of existing regulations controlling the possession of fire arms as "the minimum requirement", following the review of legislation sparked by Bird's massacre of 12 people two months ago.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, promised an immediate review of the laws governing almost two million shotguns and firearms in the UK. But the system of deciding who can legally hold a gun is under urgent scrutiny, amid concerns over how Bird was able to get licences to own a shotgun and a rifle, despite having a previous criminal conviction for theft.

Mrs May is expected to insist that applicants requesting a new licence or renewal should be subjected to a much more comprehensive psychological assessment.