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Gun Laws

Volume 566: debated on Monday 15 July 2013

Firearms control in the UK is among the toughest in the world. This shows clearly that gun crime will not be tolerated by this Government or wider society. We keep firearms laws under review to ensure that they remain appropriate, proportionate and properly implemented. This includes strengthening the guidance to police to reflect recommendations of recent reviews, including the Home Affairs Select Committee report on firearms control.

I note the Minister’s answer, but will he and the Home Secretary learn the lessons of history, not least the terrible tragedy of the Atherton case in my constituency, and back the Labour amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to make it clear in law to licensing officers that those with a history of domestic abuse and violence should not be able to own a gun?

I am happy to reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are learning the lessons of that terrible incident. As he knows, I have spoken to Bobby Turnbull several times about this matter, and I am happy to assure the hon. Gentleman that the strengthened guidance, with particular application to domestic violence, will be introduced within weeks, so that very direct lesson is being quickly learned.

My right hon. Friend might know that a relatively small number of identifiable guns are used repeatedly in gangland drug dealing and other forms of violence. What steps is his Department taking to ensure that the police have the legal weapons available to them to crack down on these hirers and renters out of such weapons?

My hon. and learned Friend is right that the middlemen who provide the guns are often as guilty as those who fire them, which is why we are increasing the maximum penalty for the manufacture, sale or transfer of these guns. I hope that that will send a clear message that these types of middlemen are indeed as guilty as those who pull the trigger.

Bobby Turnbull’s mother, sister and aunt were murdered on 1 January 2012 by somebody who should not have had access to a firearm because of his history of domestic violence. Will the Minister reflect on what he has just said and accept that only legislation, not guidance, on domestic violence and firearms will be sufficient? He has the opportunity this week to support an Opposition amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. Will he do so?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, that amendment has already been debated. We want to take practical steps to ensure that all police forces react appropriately to evidence of domestic violence when considering gun licensing. That is why we will strengthen the guidance, and do so quickly.

Ministers and the Department have been undertaking an investigation into the cost of licensing to the police. Is there any news on the results of the consultation, and are taxpayers continuing to subsidise the cost of screening and licensing for guns?

As the hon. Lady knows, we are still considering the current cost of licensing. I am looking at possible changes to full cost recovery, because we want to make the system more efficient and cheaper, and to deliver a service that provides greater safety to the public.