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Gun politics in the United Kingdom generally places its main considerations on how best to ensure public safety and how deaths involving firearms can most effectively be prevented. Unlike in the United States, there is practically no modern organised gun rights lobby in the United Kingdom, and little debate between pro-gun control and pro-gun ownership advocates. These two situations create what is believed to be some of the strictest gun legislation in the world.[1][2]

In Scotland, since power to legislate on firearms was reserved to the UK Parliament under the Scotland Act 1998 that established a Scottish Parliament, this has led to tensions between Westminster and Holyrood with the Scottish Government wanting to enact still stricter laws.[3]

Northern Ireland has the most relaxed laws on firearms. In Northern Ireland, owning a firearm is legal and firearm certificates are regularly issued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland providing that it is for self-defence and the particular person will not endanger or harm the public. Unlike mainland Britain, the right to bear arms is supported by many in Northern Ireland and a large percentage of Northern Ireland's residents are firearm owners.[4][5]

Contents

Licensing and legislation

With a few specialised exceptions, all firearms in the United Kingdom must be licensed on either a firearm certificate (FAC) or a shotgun certificate.

Shotguns (Section 2 Firearms under the 1968 Act as amanded) are defined in UK law as smoothbore firearms with barrels not shorter than 24" and a bore not larger than 2" in diameter, no revolving cylinder, and either no magazine or a non-detachable magazine that is not capable of holding more than two cartridges.[6] This effectively gives a maximum three round overall capacity, while shotguns with a capacity exceeding 2+1 rounds are subject to a firearm certificate. Shotguns thus defined are subject to a slightly less rigorous certification process.

A firearm certificate differs from a shotgun certificate in that justification must be provided to the police for each firearm; these firearms are individually listed on the certificate by type, calibre, and serial number. A shotgun certificate similarly lists type, calibre and serial number, but permits ownership of as many shotguns as can be safely accommodated. To gain permission for a new firearm, a "variation" must be sought, for which a fee is payable, unless the variation is made at the time of renewal, or unless it constitutes a one-for-one replacement of an existing firearm which is to be disposed of. The certificate also sets out, by calibre, the maximum quantities of ammunition which may be bought/possessed at any one time, and is used to record the purchasing of ammunition (except,where ammunition is both bought, and used immediately, on a range under s11 or s15 of the Firearms Acts).

To obtain a firearm certificate, the police must be convinced that a person has "good reason" to own each gun, and that they can be trusted with it "without danger to the public safety or to the peace". Under Home Office guidelines, gun licences are only issued if a person has legitimate sporting or work-related reasons for owning a gun. Since 1946, self-defence has not been considered a valid reason to own a gun. The current licensing procedure involves: positive verification of identity, two referees of verifiable good character who have known the applicant for at least two years (and who may themselves be interviewed and/or investigated as part of the certification), approval of the application by the applicant's own family doctor, an inspection of the premises and cabinet where guns will be kept and a face-to-face interview by a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) also known as a Firearms Liaison Officer (FLO). A thorough background check of the applicant is then made by Special Branch on behalf of the firearms licensing department. Only when all these stages have been satisfactorily completed will a licence be issued.

Any person who has spent more than three years in prison is automatically banned for life from obtaining a gun licence.[7] Similarly, persons applying for licences with recent, serious mental health issues will also be refused a certificate.

Any person holding a gun licence must comply with strict conditions regarding such things as safe storage. These storage arrangements are checked by the police before a licence is first granted, and on every renewal of the licence. A local police force may impose additional conditions on ownership, over and above those set out by law. Failure to comply with any of these conditions can mean forfeiture of the gun licence and surrender of any firearms to the police.

The penalty for possession of a prohibited firearm without a certificate is a maximum of ten years in prison and an uncapped fine. Unauthorised possession of most kinds of firearm attract a mandatory minimum of five years.[8]

In addition, the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 increased restrictions on the use, ownership, sale and manufacture of both airguns and imitation firearms.[9]

History of gun control in the United Kingdom

There were growing concerns in the sixteenth century over the use of guns and crossbows. Four acts were imposed to restrict their use.[10] As English subjects, Protestants had a conditional right to possess arms according to the Bill of Rights:[11]

That the subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions, and as allowed by Law.

The rights of English subjects, and, after 1707, British subjects, to possess arms was recognised under English Common Law. Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, were highly influential and were used as a reference and text book for English Common Law. In his Commentaries, Blackstone described the right to arms.[12]

The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c.2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.

Formerly, this same British common law applied to the UK and Australia, as well as until 1791 to the colonies in North America that became the United States. The right to keep and bear arms had originated in England during the reign of Henry II with the 1181 Assize of Arms, and developed as part of Common Law. These rights no longer exist in the UK, since the UK's doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty allows the repeal of previous laws with no enshrined exceptions such as contained within a codified constitution.

The first British firearm controls were introduced as part of the Vagrancy Act 1824, which was set up in a reaction against the large number of people roaming the country with weapons brought back from the Napoleonic wars. The Act allowed the police to arrest "any person with any gun, pistol, hanger [dagger], cutlass, bludgeon or other offensive weapon ... with intent to commit a felonious act". This was followed by the Night Poaching Act 1828 and Night Poaching Act 1844, the Game Act 1831, and the Poaching Prevention Act 1862, which made it an offence to illegally shoot game using a firearm.

The Gun Licence Act 1870 was created as a revenue raising measure; it required a person to obtain a licence if he wanted to carry a gun outside his own property, whether for hunting, self-defence, or other reasons. A licence was not required to buy a gun. The licences cost 10 shillings (about £31 in 2005 terms), lasted one year, and could be bought over the counter at Post Offices.

Pistols Act 1903

The Pistols Act 1903 was the first to place restrictions on the sale of firearms. Titled "An Act to regulate the sale and use of Pistols or other Firearms", it was a short Act of just nine sections, and applied solely to pistols. It defined a pistol as a firearm whose barrel did not exceed 9 in (230 mm) and made it illegal to sell or rent a pistol to anyone unless they could produce a current gun licence or game licence; were exempt from the Gun Licence Act; could prove that they planned to use the pistol on their own property; or had a statement signed by a police officer of Inspector's rank or above or a Justice of the Peace to the effect that they were about to go abroad for six months or more. The Act was more or less ineffective, as anyone wishing to buy a pistol merely had to purchase a licence from a Post Office before doing so, which were available on demand over the counter. In addition, it did not regulate private sales of such weapons.

The legislators laid some emphasis on the dangers of pistols in the hands of children and drunkards and made specific provisions regarding sales to these two groups: persons under 18 could be fined 40 shillings if they bought, hired, or carried a pistol, while anyone who sold a pistol to such a person could be fined £5. Anyone who sold a pistol to someone who was "intoxicated or of unsound mind" was liable to a fine of £25 or 3 months' imprisonment with hard labour. However, it was not an offence under the Act to give or lend a pistol to anyone belonging to these two groups.[13]

1920 Firearms Act

The Firearms Act of 1920 was partly spurred by fears of a possible surge in crime from the large number of guns available following World War I and in part due to fears of working class unrest in this period. "An Act to amend the law relating to firearms and other weapons and ammunition", its main stated aim was to enable the government to control the overseas arms trade and so fulfil their commitment to the 1919 Paris Arms Convention.[14] Shootings of police by militant groups in Ireland may also have been a factor as Britain and Ireland were at that time still in union with each other and the Act applied there too. It required anyone wanting to purchase or own a firearm or ammunition to obtain a firearm certificate. The certificate, which lasted for three years, specified not only the weapon but the amount of ammunition the holder could buy or possess. Local chief constables decided who could obtain a certificate, and had the power to exclude anyone of "intemperate habits" or "unsound mind", or indeed anyone considered to be "for any reason unfitted to be trusted with firearms". Applicants for certificates also had to convince the police that they had a good reason for needing a certificate. The law did not initially affect smooth bore weapons, which were available for purchase without any form of paperwork.The penalty for violating the Act was a fine of up to £50 or "imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three months", or both.[15]

The right of individuals to bear arms had previously been (in the words of the 1689 Bill of Rights) "as allowed by law". The 1920 Act made this right conditional upon the Home Secretary and police officers, and transformed the right into a privilege. A series of classified Home Office directives defined for the benefit of chief constables what constituted good reason to grant a certificate. These originally included self-defence.[15]

As the 1920 Act did not prevent criminals from obtaining weapons illegally, in 1933 the Firearms and Imitation Firearms (Criminal Use) Bill was submitted to Parliament. It increased the punishment for the use of a gun in the commission of a crime and made it an offence punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment for anyone to "attempt to make use" of any firearm or imitation firearm to resist arrest. Possession of a real or imitation firearm was also made an offence unless the possessor could show he had it for "a lawful object".[16]

1937 Firearms Act

The 1937 Firearms Act incorporated various modifications to the 1920 Act based on the recommendations of a 1934 committee chaired by Sir Archibald Bodkin. The resulting legislation raised the minimum age for buying a firearm or airgun from 14 to 17, extended controls to shotguns and other smoothbore weapons with barrels of less than 20 in (510 mm) (later raised by the Firearms Act 1968 to 24 in (610 mm)), transferred certificates for machine guns to military oversight, regulated gun dealers, and granted chief constables the power to add conditions to individual firearms certificates.[17]

The same year, the Home Secretary decided that self-defence was no longer a suitable reason for applying for a firearm certificate, and directed police to refuse such applications on the grounds that "firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection and may be a source of danger".[18]

Fully automatic weapons were almost completely banned from private ownership by the 1937 Act, which took its inspiration from the US 1934 National Firearms Act.[citation needed] Such weapons are nowadays only available to certain special collectors, museums and prop companies.

1968 Firearms Act

The 1968 Firearms Act brought together all existing firearms legislation in a single statute. Disregarding minor changes, it formed the legal basis for British firearms control policy until 1988 when the Firearms (Amendment) Act was rushed through Parliament in the aftermath of the 1987 Hungerford massacre. For the first time, it introduced controls for long-barrelled shotguns, in the form of shotgun certificates which, like firearm certificates, were issued by an area's chief constable in England, Scotland, and Wales. The Act did not require the registration of shotguns, only licensing.[10] Also, while applicants for firearms certificates had to show a good reason for possessing the weapon or ammunition, this did not apply to shotgun certificates.

The Act also prohibited the possession of firearms or ammunition by convicted criminals who had been sentenced to imprisonment; those sentenced to three months to three years imprisonment were banned from possessing firearms or ammunition for five years, while those sentenced to longer terms were banned for life. However, an application could be made to have the prohibition removed.[19]

The Act was accompanied by an amnesty when many older weapons were handed into the police. It has remained a feature of British policing that from time-to-time a brief firearms amnesty is often declared.[20]

Changes in public attitudes in the 1970s and 1980s changed the basis on which firearms were perceived and understood in British society. Increasingly graphic portrayals of firearms involved in gratuitous acts of violence in the mass media gave rise to concern of the emergence of an aggressive "gun culture". A steady rise in violent gun crime[citation needed] generally also became an issue of concern.

Northern Ireland

Gun ownership is more common in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain. Approximately 90,000 people in Northern Ireland own firearms, having 140,000 between them. Gun control laws in Northern Ireland are slightly different than in Great Britain, being primarily affected by the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004. Under the new law, first-time gun buyers will be required to demonstrate they can be trusted with the weapon. It will be up to gun dealers selling the weapons to tell new buyers, and those upgrading their weapons, about the safety procedures. Firearm owners in Northern Ireland must not transport their firearms to Great Britain. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where self-defence is accepted as a legitimate reason to obtain and own a firearm.[5]

Hungerford massacre

In 1987, 27-year-old Michael Ryan, armed with a semi-automatic AK-47, a Beretta handgun and an M1 carbine, dressed up in combat fatigues and proceeded around the town of Hungerford killing 16 people, wounding fifteen and shooting himself, in what became known as the Hungerford massacre.

In the aftermath, the Conservative government passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988.[21] This confined semi-automatic and pump-action centre fire rifles, military weapons firing explosive ammunition, short shotguns that had magazines, and both elevated pump-action and self-loading rifles to the Prohibited category.[22] Registration and secure storage of weapons held on shotgun certificates became required, and shotguns with more than a 2+1 capacity came to need a Firearms certificate. The law also introduced new restrictions on shotguns, although rifles in .22 rimfire and semi-automatic pistols were unaffected.

Dunblane massacre

Nine years after the Hungerford massacre, the Dunblane Massacre was the second time in less than a decade that unarmed civilians had been killed in the UK by a legally licensed gun owner. On 13 March 1996 Thomas Hamilton, aged 43, a former scout leader who had been ousted by The Scout Association five years previously, shot dead sixteen young children and their teacher, Gweneth Mayor, in Dunblane Primary School's gymnasium with his licensed weapons and ammunition. He then shot himself. There is a memorial to the seventeen victims in the local cemetery and a cenotaph in the cathedral. The funds raised in the aftermath of the tragedy have been used to build a new community centre for the town.

1997 Firearms Act

Following the Dunblane massacre, the government passed the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 which means that as of 1997 handguns have been almost completely banned for private ownership, although the official inquiry, known as the Cullen Inquiry, did not go so far as to recommend such action.[23] Exceptions to the ban include muzzle-loading "blackpowder" guns, pistols produced before 1917, pistols of historical interest (such as pistols used in notable crimes, rare prototypes, unusual serial numbers and so on), starting pistols, pistols that are of particular aesthetic interest (such as engraved or jewelled guns) and shot pistols for pest control. Under certain circumstances, individuals may be issued a PPW (Personal Protection Weapon) licence. Even the UK's Olympic shooters fall under this ban; shooters can only train in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or abroad.[24]

A measure of the extent of legal firearms ownership in the UK (post-Dunblane legislation did not extend to Northern Ireland) is that the handgun bans affected an estimated 57,000 people - 0.1% of the population, or 1 in every 960 persons.[25] At the time, the renewal cycle for FACs was five years, meaning that it would take six years for the full reduction of valid certificates to be seen for both large calibre or .22 handguns bans (i.e. because certificates would remain in force, even if the holder had disposed of all their weapons). On 31 December 1996, prior to the large calibre handgun ban, there were 133,600 FACs on issue in England and Wales; by 31 December 1997 it had fallen to 131,900. The following year, after the .22 handgun ban, the number stood at 131,900. On 31 December 2001, five years after the large calibre ban, the number had fallen to 119,600 and 117,700 the following year.[26] This represents a net drop of 24,200 certificates. Comparable figures for Scotland show a net drop of 5,841 from 32,053 to 26,212 certificates,[27] making a GB total net drop of 30,041. However, while the number of certificates in England and Wales rose each year after 2002 to stand at 126,400 at 31 March 2005 (due to a change in reporting period), those in Scotland remained relatively static, standing at 26,538 at 31 December 2005.

The 2012 Olympics

Following the awarding of the 2012 Olympic Games to London, the government announced that special dispensation would be granted to allow the various shooting events to go ahead, as had been the case previously for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. However, it was still illegal for Britain's top pistol shooters to train in England, Scotland or Wales. As a result, British shooters currently spend 20 to 30 days a year training in Switzerland, and receive no public sports funding because their events are considered illegal in the UK.[24]

Firearms crime

A Home Office study published in 2007 reported that gun crime in England & Wales remains a relatively rare event. Firearms (including air weapons) were used in 21,521 recorded crimes. It said that injury caused during a firearm offence was rare with less than 3% resulting in a serious or fatal injury.[28]

The number of homicides committed with firearms has remained between a range of 49 and 97 in the 8 years to 2006. There were 2 fatal shootings of police officers in England and Wales in this period and 107 non-fatal shootings - an average of 9.7 per year over the same period.[29]

In 2005/6 the police in England and Wales reported 50 gun homicides, a rate of 0.1 illegal gun deaths per 100,000 of population. Only 6.6% of homicides involved the use of a firearm.[29]

By way of international comparison, in 2004 the police in the United States reported 9,326 gun homicides.[30] The overall homicide rates per 100,000 (regardless of weapon type) reported by the United Nations for 1999 were 4.55 for the U.S. and 1.45 in England and Wales.[31] The homicide rate in England and Wales at the end of the 1990s was below the EU average, but the rates in Northern Ireland and Scotland were above the EU average.[32]

While the number of crimes involving firearms in England and Wales increased from 13,874 in 1998/99 to 24,070 in 2002/03, they remained relatively static at 24,094 in 2003/04, and have since fallen to 21,521 in 2005/06. The latter includes 3,275 crimes involving imitation firearms and 10,437 involving air weapons, compared to 566 and 8,665 respectively in 1998/99.[33] Only those "firearms" positively identified as being imitations or air weapons (e.g. by being recovered by the police or by being fired) are classed as such, so the actual numbers are likely to be significantly higher. In 2005/06, 8,978 of the total of 21,521 firearms crimes (42%) were for criminal damage.[34]

Since 1998, the number of people injured by firearms in England and Wales increased by 110%,[35] from 2,378 in 1998/99 to 5,001 in 2005/06. Most of the rise in injuries were in the category slight injuries from the non-air weapons. "Slight" in this context means an injury that was not classified as "serious" (i.e. did not require detention in hospital, did not involve fractures, concussion, severe general shock, penetration by a bullet or multiple shot wounds). In 2005/06, 87% of such injuries were defined as "slight," which includes the use of firearms as a threat only. In 2007, the British government was accused by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis of making "inaccurate and misleading" statements claiming that gun crime was falling, after official figures showed that gun-related killings and injuries recorded by police had risen more than fourfold since 1998, mainly due to a rise in non-fatal injuries.[36][37] Justice Minister Mr Jack Straw told the BBC, "We are concerned that within the overall record, which is a good one, of crime going down in the last 10-11 years, the number of gun-related incidents has gone up. But it has now started to fall."[38]

In 2008 The Independent reported that there were 42 gun-related deaths in Great Britain, a 20 year low.[39] However, in late 2009 The Telegraph reported that gun crime had doubled in the last 10 years, with an increase in both firearms offences and deaths. A government spokesman said this increase was a result of a change in reporting practices in 2001 and that gun crime had actually fallen since 2005. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, attributed the rise to ineffective Policing and an out of control gang culture.[40]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ CNN - Strict new gun law in Britain - September 30, 1997 - cached copy at [1]
  2. ^ New gun law call as city mourns | News crumb | EducationGuardian.co.uk
  3. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7272553.stm UK rejection over gun laws review BBC News, 2 March 2008
  4. ^ Firearms | Police Service of Northern Ireland
  5. ^ a b http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article808701.ece
  6. ^ "Home Office Firearms Law: Guidance To The Police". http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/news-and-publications/publication/operational-policing/HO-Firearms-Guidance.pdf?view=Binary. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  7. ^ Firearms Enquiries | FAQ | Prohibited Persons and Shooting without a Certificate
  8. ^ BBC NEWS | Politics | Blunkett denies guns U-turn
  9. ^ Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (c. 38)
  10. ^ a b Tom A. Warlow, Firearms, the Law and Forensic Ballistics, CRC Press, p. 19,20, ISBN 0415316014 
  11. ^ "House of Commons Journal 29". http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=12995#s11. 
  12. ^ William Blackstone,'1 Commentaries on the Laws of England" 136
  13. ^ Greenwood, pp. 27-29
  14. ^ Greenwood, p. 241
  15. ^ a b Malcolm, p. 148-149
  16. ^ Malcolm, p. 153
  17. ^ Malcolm, p. 155
  18. ^ Malcolm, p. 157
  19. ^ Simon, Rita James (2001). A Comparative Perspective on Major Social Problems. Lexington Books. p. 90. ISBN 0739102486. 
  20. ^ "2004 Firearms Amnesty". BBC News. 30 September 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/3704298.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  21. ^ Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988
  22. ^ http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1988/Ukpga_19880045_en_2.htm#mdiv1 Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 (c. 45) - Specially dangerous weapons
  23. ^ Public Enquiry into the shootings at Dunblane Primary Sch 13/3/96
  24. ^ a b Fraser, Andrew (19 August 2005). "Shooters seek handgun law change". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4162498.stm. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  25. ^ http://www.firearmsafetyseminar.org.nz/_documents/Greenwood_Paper.pdf paragraph 58; original copy unavailable - cashed copy at http://web.archive.org/web/20060623104106/http://www.firearmsafetyseminar.org.nz/_documents/Greenwood_Paper.pdf
  26. ^ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/hosb0706.pdf Firearm certificates - England and Wales, 2004/05
  27. ^ http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/05/17143527/5
  28. ^ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf Home Office: Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005/2006:Page 32
  29. ^ a b http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf Page 36
  30. ^ FBI Report. Crime in the United States 2004. Table 2.9 page 19
  31. ^ http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/seventh_survey/7pv.pdf Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1998 - 2000: Table 02.02
  32. ^ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/hosb601.pdf International comparisons of criminal justice statistics 1999
  33. ^ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf Page 43
  34. ^ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf Page 41
  35. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Blair wants gun crime age reduced
  36. ^ Ministers 'covered up' gun crime, The Times, 26 August 2007
  37. ^ Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005/2006, Home Office statistical bulletin, 25 January 2007
  38. ^ Another arrest as Croxteth pays tribute to Rhys, The Guardian, 27 August 2007
  39. ^ Nigel Morris (8 January 2009). "Britain records 18% fall in gun deaths". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/britain-records-18-fall-in-gun-deaths-1232069.html. 
  40. ^ Gun crime doubles in a decade - Telegraph

References

  • Greenwood, Colin (1972). Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms Control in England and Wales. Routledge. ISBN 0710074352. 
  • Malcolm, Joyce Lee (2002). Guns and Violence: The English Experience. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674016084. 

Relevant acts of Parliament

The following information is released under Crown Copyright by the Office of Public Sector Information.This allows reproduction free of charge in any format or medium provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context.

External links


Gun politics in the United Kingdom generally places its main considerations on how best to ensure public safety and how deaths involving firearms can most effectively be prevented. Despite its largely urbanized population, the United Kingdom has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world. Its police officers do not routinely carry a firearm, and both the public and the police prefer this to continue.[1] Gun ownership levels have traditionally been low. This was the case even before the imposition of modern firearm legislation. Hunting with firearms was always a relatively elite activity and 'gun sports' relatively uncommon. Recent mass shootings by persons with licenced rifles and hand guns have led to what is believed to be some of the strictest firearms legislation in the world.[2][3]

In Scotland, since power to legislate on firearms was reserved to the UK Parliament under the Scotland Act 1998 that established a Scottish Parliament, this has led to tensions between Westminster and Holyrood with the Scottish Government wanting to enact still stricter laws.[4]

In Northern Ireland, owning a firearm is legal and firearm certificates are issued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Firearms control laws in Northern Ireland are slightly different from in Great Britain, being primarily affected by the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.

Contents

Licensing and legislation

With a few specialised exceptions, all firearms in the United Kingdom must be licensed on either a firearm certificate (FAC) or a shotgun certificate.

Shotguns (Section 2 Firearms under the 1968 Act as amended) are defined in UK law as smoothbore firearms with barrels not shorter than 24 inches (60 cm) and a bore not larger than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, no revolving cylinder, and either no magazine or a non-detachable magazine that is not capable of holding more than two cartridges.[5] This effectively gives a maximum three round overall capacity, while shotguns with a capacity exceeding 2+1 rounds are subject to a firearm certificate. Shotguns thus defined are subject to a slightly less rigorous certification process.

A firearm certificate differs from a shotgun certificate in that justification must be provided to the police for each firearm; these firearms are individually listed on the certificate by type, calibre, and serial number. A shotgun certificate similarly lists type, calibre and serial number, but permits ownership of as many shotguns as can be safely accommodated. To gain permission for a new firearm, a "variation" must be sought, for which a fee is payable, unless the variation is made at the time of renewal, or unless it constitutes a one-for-one replacement of an existing firearm which is to be disposed of. The certificate also sets out, by calibre, the maximum quantities of ammunition which may be bought/possessed at any one time, and is used to record the purchasing of ammunition (except,where ammunition is both bought, and used immediately, on a range under s11 or s15 of the Firearms Acts).

To obtain a firearm certificate, the police must be convinced that a person has "good reason" to own each weapon, and that they can be trusted with it "without danger to the public safety or to the peace". Under Home Office guidelines, firearms' licences are only issued if a person has legitimate sporting or work-related reasons for ownership. Since 1946, self-defence has not been considered a valid reason to own a firearm. The current licensing procedure involves: positive verification of identity, two referees of verifiable good character who have known the applicant for at least two years (and who may themselves be interviewed and/or investigated as part of the certification), approval of the application by the applicant's own family doctor, an inspection of the premises and cabinet where firearms will be kept and a face-to-face interview by a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) also known as a Firearms Liaison Officer (FLO). A thorough background check of the applicant is then made by Special Branch on behalf of the firearms licensing department. Only when all these stages have been satisfactorily completed will a licence be issued.

Any person who has been sentenced to three years or more in prison is automatically banned for life from obtaining a firearms licence.[6] Similarly, persons applying for licences with recent, serious mental health issues will also be refused a certificate.

Any person holding a Firearm or Shotgun Certificate must comply with strict conditions regarding such things as safe storage. These storage arrangements are checked by the police before a licence is first granted, and on every renewal of the licence. A local police force may impose additional conditions on ownership, over and above those set out by law. Failure to comply with any of these conditions can mean forfeiture of the licence and surrender of any firearms to the police.

The penalty for possession of a prohibited firearm without a certificate is a maximum of ten years in prison and an uncapped fine. Unauthorised possession of most kinds of firearm attract a mandatory minimum of five years.[7]

In addition, the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 increased restrictions on the use, ownership, sale and manufacture of both airguns and imitation firearms.[8]

History of gun control in the United Kingdom

There were growing concerns in the sixteenth century over the use of guns and crossbows. Four acts were imposed to restrict their use.[9]

The Bill of Rights restated the ancient rights of the people to have arms by reinstating the right of Protestants to have arms after they had been illegally disarmed by James II. The bill follows closely the Declaration of Rights made in Parliament in Febriary 1689.[10]

"Whereas the late King James the Second, by the Assistance of divers evil Counsellors, Judges, and Ministers, employed by Him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant Religion, and the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom..(b)y assuming and exercising a Power of dispensing with and suspending of Laws, and the Execution of Laws, without Consent of Parliament....(b)y causing several good Subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed, at the same Time when Papists were both armed and employed contrary to Law...(a)ll which are utterly and directly contrary to the known Laws and Statutes and Freedom of this Realm..... the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, pursuant to their respective Letters and Elections, being now assembled in a full and free Representative of this Nation, taking into their most serious Consideration the best Means for attaining the Ends aforesaid, do in the First Place (as their Ancestors in like Case have usually done), for the vindicating and asserting their ancient Rights and Liberties, Declare,....That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence, suitable to their Condition, and as allowed by Law.

The rights of English subjects, and, after 1707, British subjects, to possess arms was recognised under English Common Law. Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, were highly influential and were used as a reference and text book for English Common Law. In his Commentaries, Blackstone described the right to arms.[11]

The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c.2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.

Formerly, this same British common law applied to the UK and Australia, as well as until 1791 to the colonies in North America that became the United States. The right to keep and bear arms had originated in England during the reign of Henry II with the 1181 Assize of Arms, and developed as part of Common Law. These rights no longer exist in the UK, since the UK's doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty allows the repeal of previous laws with no enshrined exceptions such as contained within a codified constitution.

The first British firearm controls were introduced as part of the Vagrancy Act 1824, which was set up in a reaction against the large number of people roaming the country with weapons brought back from the Napoleonic wars. The Act allowed the police to arrest "any person with any gun, pistol, hanger [dagger], cutlass, bludgeon or other offensive weapon ... with intent to commit a felonious act". This was followed by the Night Poaching Act 1828 and Night Poaching Act 1844, the Game Act 1831, and the Poaching Prevention Act 1862, which made it an offence to illegally shoot game using a firearm.

The Gun Licence Act 1870 was created as a revenue raising measure; it required a person to obtain a licence if he wanted to carry a gun outside his own property, whether for hunting, self-defence, or other reasons. A licence was not required to buy a gun. The licences cost 10 shillings (about £31 in 2005 terms), lasted one year, and could be bought over the counter at Post Offices.

Pistols Act 1903

The Pistols Act 1903 was the first to place restrictions on the sale of firearms. Titled "An Act to regulate the sale and use of Pistols or other Firearms", it was a short Act of just nine sections, and applied solely to pistols. It defined a pistol as a firearm whose barrel did not exceed 9 in (230 mm) and made it illegal to sell or rent a pistol to anyone unless they could produce a current gun licence or game licence; were exempt from the Gun Licence Act; could prove that they planned to use the pistol on their own property; or had a statement signed by a police officer of Inspector's rank or above or a Justice of the Peace to the effect that they were about to go abroad for six months or more. The Act was more or less ineffective, as anyone wishing to buy a pistol merely had to purchase a licence from a Post Office before doing so, which were available on demand over the counter. In addition, it did not regulate private sales of such weapons.

The legislators laid some emphasis on the dangers of pistols in the hands of children and drunkards and made specific provisions regarding sales to these two groups: persons under 18 could be fined 40 shillings if they bought, hired, or carried a pistol, while anyone who sold a pistol to such a person could be fined £5. Anyone who sold a pistol to someone who was "intoxicated or of unsound mind" was liable to a fine of £25 or 3 months' imprisonment with hard labour. However, it was not an offence under the Act to give or lend a pistol to anyone belonging to these two groups.[12]

1920 Firearms Act

The Firearms Act of 1920 was partly spurred by fears of a possible surge in crime from the large number of guns available following World War I and in part due to fears of working class unrest in this period. "An Act to amend the law relating to firearms and other weapons and ammunition", its main stated aim was to enable the government to control the overseas arms trade and so fulfil their commitment to the 1919 Paris Arms Convention.[13] Shootings of police by militant groups in Ireland may also have been a factor as Britain and Ireland were at that time still in union with each other and the Act applied there too. It required anyone wanting to purchase or own a firearm or ammunition to obtain a firearm certificate. The certificate, which lasted for three years, specified not only the weapon but the amount of ammunition the holder could buy or possess. Local chief constables decided who could obtain a certificate, and had the power to exclude anyone of "intemperate habits" or "unsound mind", or indeed anyone considered to be "for any reason unfitted to be trusted with firearms". Applicants for certificates also had to convince the police that they had a good reason for needing a certificate. The law did not initially affect smooth bore weapons, which were available for purchase without any form of paperwork. The penalty for violating the Act was a fine of up to £50 or "imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three months", or both.[14]

The right of individuals to bear arms had previously been (in the words of the 1689 Bill of Rights) "as allowed by law". The 1920 Act made this right conditional upon the Home Secretary and police officers, and transformed the right into a privilege. A series of classified Home Office directives defined for the benefit of chief constables what constituted good reason to grant a certificate. These originally included self-defence.[14]

As the 1920 Act did not prevent criminals from obtaining weapons illegally, in 1933 the Firearms and Imitation Firearms (Criminal Use) Bill was submitted to Parliament. It increased the punishment for the use of a gun in the commission of a crime and made it an offence punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment for anyone to "attempt to make use" of any firearm or imitation firearm to resist arrest. Possession of a real or imitation firearm was also made an offence unless the possessor could show he had it for "a lawful object".[15]

1937 Firearms Act

The 1937 Firearms Act incorporated various modifications to the 1920 Act based on the recommendations of a 1934 committee chaired by Sir Archibald Bodkin. The resulting legislation raised the minimum age for buying a firearm or airgun from 14 to 17, extended controls to shotguns and other smoothbore weapons with barrels of less than 20 in (510 mm) (later raised by the Firearms Act 1968 to 24 in (610 mm)), transferred certificates for machine guns to military oversight, regulated gun dealers, and granted chief constables the power to add conditions to individual firearms certificates.[16]

The same year, the Home Secretary decided that self-defence was no longer a suitable reason for applying for a firearm certificate, and directed police to refuse such applications on the grounds that "firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection and may be a source of danger".[17]

Fully automatic weapons were almost completely banned from private ownership by the 1937 Act, which took its inspiration from the US 1934 National Firearms Act.[citation needed] Such weapons are nowadays only available to certain special collectors, museums and prop companies.

1968 Firearms Act

The 1968 Firearms Act brought together all existing firearms legislation in a single statute. Disregarding minor changes, it formed the legal basis for British firearms control policy until 1988 when the Firearms (Amendment) Act was put through Parliament in the aftermath of the 1987 Hungerford massacre. For the first time, it introduced controls for long-barrelled shotguns, in the form of shotgun certificates which, like firearm certificates, were issued by an area's chief constable in England, Scotland, and Wales. Also, while applicants for firearms certificates had to show a good reason for possessing the weapon or ammunition, this did not apply to shotgun certificates. Weapons must be stored locked and ammunition must be stored and locked in a different cabinet.

The Act also prohibited the possession of firearms or ammunition by convicted criminals who had been sentenced to imprisonment; those sentenced to three months to three years imprisonment were banned from possessing firearms or ammunition for five years, while those sentenced to longer terms were banned for life. However, an application could be made to have the prohibition removed.[18]

The Act was accompanied by an amnesty when many older weapons were handed into the police. It has remained a feature of British policing that from time-to-time a brief firearms amnesty is often declared.[19]

Changes in public attitudes in the 1970s and 1980s changed the basis on which firearms were perceived and understood in British society. Increasingly graphic portrayals of firearms involved in gratuitous acts of violence in the mass media gave rise to concern of the emergence of an aggressive "gun culture". A steady rise in violent gun crime[citation needed] generally also became an issue of concern.

Northern Ireland

Gun ownership is more common in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain. Approximately 90,000 people in Northern Ireland own firearms, having 140,000 between them[citation needed]. Gun control laws in Northern Ireland are slightly different from those in the rest of the UK, being primarily affected by the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004. Under the new law, first-time buyers will be required to demonstrate they can be trusted with the weapon. It will be up to firearms dealers selling the weapons to tell new buyers, and those upgrading their weapons, about the safety procedures. Firearm owners in Northern Ireland must not transport their firearms to Great Britain. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where personal protection is accepted as a legitimate reason to obtain and own a firearm and is the only part of the United Kingdom where handguns are not prohibited. However a firearm certificate for a personal protection weapon will only be authorised where the Police Service of Northern Ireland deems there is a ‘verifiable specific risk’ to the life of an individual and that the possession of a firearm is a reasonable, proportionate and necessary measure to protect their life.[20]

Hungerford massacre

In 1987, 27-year-old Michael Ryan, armed with a two semi-automatic rifles (a Type 56 assault rifle, and an M1 carbine), and a Beretta handgun, dressed in combat fatigues and proceeded around the town of Hungerford killing 16 people, wounding fifteen and shooting himself, in what became known as the Hungerford massacre.

In the aftermath, the Conservative government passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988.[21] This confined semi-automatic and pump-action centre fire rifles, military weapons firing explosive ammunition, short shotguns that had magazines, and both elevated pump-action and self-loading rifles to the Prohibited category.[22] Registration and secure storage of weapons held on shotgun certificates became required, and shotguns with more than a 2+1 capacity came to need a Firearms certificate. The law also introduced new restrictions on shotguns, although rifles in .22 rimfire and semi-automatic pistols were unaffected.

Dunblane massacre

Nine years after the Hungerford massacre, the Dunblane Massacre was the second time in less than a decade that unarmed civilians had been killed in the UK by a legally licensed gun owner. On 13 March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, aged 43, a former scout leader who had been ousted by The Scout Association five years previously, shot dead sixteen young children and their teacher, Gweneth Mayor, in Dunblane Primary School's gymnasium with his licensed weapons and ammunition. He then shot himself. There is a memorial to the seventeen victims in the local cemetery and a cenotaph in the cathedral. The funds raised in the aftermath of the tragedy have been used to build a new community centre for the town.

1997 Firearms Act

Following the Dunblane massacre, the government passed the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 which means that as of 1997 handguns have been almost completely banned for private ownership, although the official inquiry, known as the Cullen Inquiry, did not go so far as to recommend such action.[23] Exceptions to the ban include muzzle-loading "blackpowder" guns, pistols produced before 1917, pistols of historical interest (such as pistols used in notable crimes, rare prototypes, unusual serial numbers and so on), starting pistols, pistols that are of particular aesthetic interest (such as engraved or jewelled guns) and shot pistols for pest control. Under certain circumstances, individuals may be issued a PPW (Personal Protection Weapon) licence. Even the UK's Olympic shooters fall under this ban; shooters can only train in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or abroad.[24]

A measure of the extent of legal firearms ownership in the UK (post-Dunblane legislation did not extend to Northern Ireland) is that the handgun bans affected an estimated 57,000 people - 0.1% of the population, or 1 in every 960 persons.[25] At the time, the renewal cycle for FACs was five years, meaning that it would take six years for the full reduction of valid certificates to be seen for both large calibre or .22 handguns bans (i.e., because certificates would remain in force, even if the holder had disposed of all their weapons). On 31 December 1996, prior to the large calibre handgun ban, there were 133,600 FACs on issue in England and Wales; by 31 December 1997 it had fallen to 131,900. The following year, after the .22 handgun ban, the number stood at 131,900. On 31 December 2001, five years after the large calibre ban, the number had fallen to 119,600 and 117,700 the following year.[26] This represents a net drop of 24,200 certificates. Comparable figures for Scotland show a net drop of 5,841 from 32,053 to 26,212 certificates,[27] making a GB total net drop of 30,041. However, while the number of certificates in England and Wales rose each year after 2002 to stand at 126,400 at 31 March 2005 (due to a change in reporting period), those in Scotland remained relatively static, standing at 26,538 at 31 December 2005.

The 2012 Olympics

Following the awarding of the 2012 Olympic Games to London, the government announced that special dispensation would be granted to allow the various shooting events to go ahead, as had been the case previously for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. However, it was still illegal for Britain's top pistol shooters to train in England, Scotland or Wales. As a result, British shooters currently spend 20 to 30 days a year training in Switzerland, and receive no public sports funding because their events are considered illegal in the UK.[24]

Firearms crime

A Home Office study published in 2007 reported that gun crime in England & Wales remains a relatively rare event. Firearms (including air weapons) were used in 21,521 recorded crimes. It said that injury caused during a firearm offence was rare with less than 3% resulting in a serious or fatal injury.[28]

The number of homicides per year committed with firearms has remained between a range of 49 and 97 in the 8 years to 2006. There were 2 fatal shootings of police officers in England and Wales in this period and 107 non-fatal shootings - an average of 9.7 per year over the same period.[29]

In 2005/6 the police in England and Wales reported 50 gun homicides, a rate of 0.1 illegal gun deaths per 100,000 of population. Only 6.6% of homicides involved the use of a firearm.[29]

By way of international comparison, in 2004 the police in the United States reported 9,326 gun homicides.[30] The overall homicide rates per 100,000 (regardless of weapon type) reported by the United Nations for 1999 were 4.55 for the U.S. and 1.45 in England and Wales.[31] The homicide rate in England and Wales at the end of the 1990s was below the EU average, but the rates in Northern Ireland and Scotland were above the EU average.[32]

While the number of crimes involving firearms in England and Wales increased from 13,874 in 1998/99 to 24,070 in 2002/03, they remained relatively static at 24,094 in 2003/04, and have since fallen to 21,521 in 2005/06. The latter includes 3,275 crimes involving imitation firearms and 10,437 involving air weapons, compared to 566 and 8,665 respectively in 1998/99.[33] Only those "firearms" positively identified as being imitations or air weapons (e.g., by being recovered by the police or by being fired) are classed as such, so the actual numbers are likely to be significantly higher. In 2005/06, 8,978 of the total of 21,521 firearms crimes (42%) were for criminal damage.[33]

Compared with the United States of America, the United Kingdom has a slightly higher total crime rate per capita of approximately 85 per 1000 people, while in the USA it is approximately 80.[34]

Since 1998, the number of people injured by firearms in England and Wales increased by 110%,[35] from 2,378 in 1998/99 to 5,001 in 2005/06. Most of the rise in injuries were in the category slight injuries from the non-air weapons. "Slight" in this context means an injury that was not classified as "serious" (i.e., did not require detention in hospital, did not involve fractures, concussion, severe general shock, penetration by a bullet or multiple shot wounds). In 2005/06, 87% of such injuries were defined as "slight," which includes the use of firearms as a threat only. In 2007, the British government was accused by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis of making "inaccurate and misleading" statements claiming that gun crime was falling, after official figures showed that gun-related killings and injuries recorded by police had risen more than fourfold since 1998, mainly due to a rise in non-fatal injuries.[36][37] Justice Minister Mr Jack Straw told the BBC, "We are concerned that within the overall record, which is a good one, of crime going down in the last 10-11 years, the number of gun-related incidents has gone up. But it has now started to fall."[38]

In 2008 The Independent reported that there were 42 gun-related deaths in Great Britain, a 20-year low.[39] However, in late 2009 The Telegraph reported that gun crime had doubled in the last 10 years, with an increase in both firearms offences and deaths. A government spokesman said this increase was a result of a change in reporting practices in 2001 and that gun crime had actually fallen since 2005. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary (an opposition party spokesperson), attributed the rise to ineffective Policing and an out of control gang culture.[40]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk/2001/life_of_crime/police.stm. 
  2. ^ CNN - Strict new gun law in Britain - September 30, 1997 - cached copy at [1]
  3. ^ John Hooper in Erfurt and AP (2002-04-29). "New gun law call as city mourns | News crumb". London: EducationGuardian.co.uk. http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,707041,00.html. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  4. ^ "UK rejection over gun laws review BBC News, 2 March 2008". BBC News. 2008-03-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7272553.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  5. ^ "Home Office Firearms Law: Guidance To The Police". http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/news-and-publications/publication/operational-policing/HO-Firearms-Guidance.pdf?view=Binary. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  6. ^ Metropolitan Police Service - Firearms Licensing - FAQs
  7. ^ David Blunkett (2003-01-08). "Politics | Blunkett denies guns U-turn". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2634285.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  8. ^ "Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (c. 38)". Opsi.gov.uk. 2006-11-08. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060038_en_1. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  9. ^ Tom A. Warlow, [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Firearms, the Law and Forensic Ballistics], CRC Press, p. 19,20, ISBN 0415316014 
  10. ^ "House of Commons Journal 29". http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=12995#s11. 
  11. ^ William Blackstone,'1 Commentaries on the Laws of England" 136
  12. ^ Greenwood, pp. 27-29
  13. ^ Greenwood, p. 241
  14. ^ a b Malcolm, p. 148-149
  15. ^ Malcolm, p. 153
  16. ^ Malcolm, p. 155
  17. ^ Malcolm, p. 157
  18. ^ Simon, Rita James (2001). A Comparative Perspective on Major Social Problems. Lexington Books. p. 90. ISBN 0739102486. 
  19. ^ "2004 Firearms Amnesty". BBC News. 30 September 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/3704298.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  20. ^ Ryder, Chris (5 January 2003). "Ulster gun owners face weapons licence tests". The Times (London). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article808701.ece. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  21. ^ "Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988". Opsi.gov.uk. 1988-11-15. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1988/Ukpga_19880045_en_1.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  22. ^ "Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 (c. 45) - Specially dangerous weapons". Opsi.gov.uk. 1987-09-23. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1988/Ukpga_19880045_en_2.htm#mdiv1. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  23. ^ "Public Enquiry into the shootings at Dunblane Primary Sch 13/3/96". Archive.official-documents.co.uk. 1996-10-16. http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/scottish/dunblane/dun9-113.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  24. ^ a b Fraser, Andrew (19 August 2005). "Shooters seek handgun law change". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4162498.stm. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  25. ^ http://www.firearmsafetyseminar.org.nz/_documents/Greenwood_Paper.pdf paragraph 58; original copy unavailable - cashed copy at http://web.archive.org/web/20060623104106/http://www.firearmsafetyseminar.org.nz/_documents/Greenwood_Paper.pdf
  26. ^ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/hosb0706.pdf Firearm certificates - England and Wales, 2004/05
  27. ^ http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/05/17143527/5
  28. ^ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf Home Office: Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005/2006:Page 32
  29. ^ a b http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf Page 36
  30. ^ "CIUS2004.indb" (PDF). http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/documents/CIUS_2004_Section2.pdf. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  31. ^ "Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, statistics" (PDF). http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/seventh_survey/7pv.pdf. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  32. ^ "HOSB International comparisons of criminal justice statistics 1999 Issue 6/01 May 2001" (PDF). http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/hosb601.pdf. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  33. ^ a b "Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005/2006 Supplementary Volume 1 to Crime in England and Wales 2005/2006)" (PDF). http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  34. ^ "Total crimes (per capita) by country. Definition, graph and map". Nationmaster.com. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_percap-crime-total-crimes-per-capita. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  35. ^ "UK | UK Politics | Blair wants gun crime age reduced". BBC News. 2007-02-18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6372717.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  36. ^ Ministers 'covered up' gun crime, The Times, 26 August 2007
  37. ^ Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005/2006, Home Office statistical bulletin, 25 January 2007
  38. ^ Another arrest as Croxteth pays tribute to Rhys, The Guardian, 27 August 2007
  39. ^ Nigel Morris (8 January 2009). "Britain records 18% fall in gun deaths". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/britain-records-18-fall-in-gun-deaths-1232069.html. 
  40. ^ Whitehead, Tom (27 October 2009). "Gun crime doubles in a decade". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/6438601/Gun-crime-doubles-in-a-decade.html. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 

References

  • Greenwood, Colin (1972). Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms Control in England and Wales. Routledge. ISBN 0710074352. 
  • Malcolm, Joyce Lee (2002). Guns and Violence: The English Experience. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674016084. 

Relevant acts of Parliament

The following information is released under Crown Copyright by the Office of Public Sector Information.This allows reproduction free of charge in any format or medium provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context.

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