22nd Jun, 2018

Ron Ball says GPs should reveal information affecting people holding gun licenses

Leamington Editorial 20th Sep, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

GPS must tell police anything which could affect a person holding a gun license says Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball.

His words follow a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) into firearms licensing which highlighted flaws in the current system for processing a weapons license.

While gun crime is low in the UK, the HIMC report highlighted areas where checks needed to be tightened.

They include the fact applicants must disclose any relevant medical condition and give police permission to speak to their GP – even though doctors do not have to currently respond to the police request.

And neither are GPs under any obligation to inform police of a diagnosis that would cause a license to be revoked. The case of Harold Ambrose, who killed his wife with a licensed shotgun last year before taking his own life is highlighted in the report. He had been diagnosed with dementia but police had not been informed.

Mr Ball said: “The Home Office should give serious consideration to ensuring that GPs are mandated to provide relevant and timely information to the police about changes in a patient’s medical condition which would impact their suitability to hold a firearm.

“There is a clear gap in the information that the police have access to at the moment and this is an area of significant risk.

“Any process of licensing firearms will carry risks and therefore the focus is on minimising those risks as far as possible, while accepting that they can never entirely be eradicated.

“We are fortunate to live in a society with very low gun crime and the numbers of shooting incidents nationally involving fatalities has decreased by almost half in the last five years, with only a small minority of those involving licensed firearms holders. This is despite a considerable rise in the number of firearms being licensed.”

His call was echoed by the Countryside Alliance.

Chief Executive Tim Bonner said: “We are fully supportive of any practical improvement in medical checks or any other aspect of the licensing process.”

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