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Gun control to prevent domestic violence


gunsUK citizens applying for a firearms licence may have to get their partner or spouse’s approval.

In a letter to MPs in the House of Commons, published on 16 January, Theresa May forwarded suggestions to implement tighter regulations on those wishing to possess firearms.

In particular, May said that greater crackdowns must be made to address the thin line that existed between gun possession and domestic violence cases throughout Britain.

Working with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), May advised that there should be “stronger guidance on how reports of domestic violence should be treated by police considering firearms applications.”

“Although each case is considered on its merits,” she said, “we will discuss with ACPO amendment of the guidance to make it clear that it is not appropriate to issue a firearm or shotgun certificate where there is a history or successive reports of domestic abuse.”

Last January, Michael Atherton shot dead three women, including his partner and her sister, after his gun licence, which had been recommended for refusal, was granted. He then killed himself.

May said that Canada had already implemented requirements for additional spouse signatures in their firearms applications.

She insisted that by introducing more legislation and further amendments within the existing law, much more could be done to prevent cases of domestic violence.

However, such measures could backfire; partners and spouses could be forced into signing the applications against their will.

Britain has already implemented very tight gun control laws for its citizens, including mental health checks and the disclosure of medical data, and many handguns are already banned from possession and distribution.

May wrote the letter following the Sandy Hook massacre last December in America which saw attacker, Adam Lanza, wielding a handgun and  killing 20 children and 6 adults before finally shooting himself.

The letter is included as a supplement to a review of gun control in Britain that began in 2010 following the Cumbria shootings carried out by Derek Bird that left 12 people dead.

Currently in the UK, criminals imprisoned for 3 years or more are permanently banned from possessing firearms.

However, those convicted for between 3 months and 3 years, only face a temporary ban of 5 years before being allowed to re-apply for a licence.

May added that extended bans should also be given to those criminals with suspended sentences and their licence certificates should also be retained.

May has long been a supporter of increased gun control in Britain.

In October, she introduced the idea of targeting those who distributed and loaned out firearms to gangs, including sentencing those found responsible to life sentences, which she further addressed in her letter.

“Consultation took place over the summer on proposals around the importation and supply of illegal firearms,” she said.

“Individuals responsible for making firearms available to other criminals through importation or supply, regardless of whether they use the weapons themselves, should face tough and appropriate sentences,” she added.

“Following the consultation … we are planning to increase the maximum sentence for the existing importation offence, and to create a new offence of possession for sale or transfer of prohibited firearms or ammunition.”

“We are looking to legislate as soon as Parliamentary time allows,” May said.

May added that greater measures of scrutiny were essential in preventing the misuse of guns and firearms in the UK.

“A single application form for firearms and shot guns has been designed and is due to be introduced early next year”, she added.

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