Survey finds people are assured about the effectiveness of the firearms licensing regime
An APCC survey has found that people across England and Wales are broadly assured about the effectiveness of the firearms licensing regime.
With some commentators calling for additional restrictions on firearms and shotgun ownership following the recent tragic shooting in Plymouth, the APCC launched a survey this summer in part to better inform the public about the current measures and protections already in place as well as to seek the public’s views and feedback.
It ran from 30 September to 20 October, yielding a total of 24,430 complete responses including a significant number from people who identified as current or former licence holders.
APCC Chair Marc Jones said: "We were heartened to see a great deal of agreement between license holders and the wider public. The majority of both groups feel broadly assured about the effectiveness of the firearms licensing regime in England and Wales in keeping people safe. On behalf of the public, who we as PCCs are answerable to, this was important to hear."
Key findings included:
- 93% of respondents were already aware, or partially aware, of the requirements around owning a gun within England and Wales.
- Most people (55%) said figures given for the numbers of firearms licences and shotgun certificates in England and Wales, and the numbers of firearms or shotguns held, were what about what they expected.
- 78% of respondents felt fully or partially assured about the effectiveness of the firearms licensing regime in England and Wales in keeping people safe.
- 77% of respondents felt a medical report should always be provided to the police as part of the process for issuing a firearms licence or shotgun certificate.
- 76% of respondents think a person’s medical record should always indicate when they have been granted a firearms licence or shotgun certificate.
- 89% of respondents think GPs should inform the police if they become aware of changes to a firearm licence or shotgun certificate holder’s health which means they may no longer be safe to hold a firearms licence.
- Respondents were divided on suggestions that the police could in future research a person’s social media and other online activities as part of any assessment for issuing a firearms licence or shotgun certificate. 31% strongly believe all possible checks should be made, irrespective of time and resourcing; but a further 31% expressed concerns over resourcing, and 26% said checks would not generally be reliable or useful.
- Most respondents (54%) disagree with the idea of all of the costs incurred by the police and by medical practitioners in processing a firearms licence or shotgun certificate should be met by the applicant.
- 98% of respondents said, if they had concerns about someone they knew held a firearms licence or shotgun certificate, they would pass those concerns on. Most of those said they would contact the police about those concerns, rather than any other agency.
Mr Jones added: "With the Government’s new statutory guidance for police officers on firearms licensing having now come into effect, we now want to focus our efforts on working with our national and local partners, including yourselves, to ensure that the guidance delivers effectively on the ground."
The results of the survey have been shared with all PCCs and equivalents, as well as the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs Council for their information and to inform discussions moving forward.