Police will need to check someone’s medical history before issuing a firearms license following the mass shooting in Plymouth, the government has confirmed.
From November 1, all requests for firearms must be accompanied by a medical document signed by a registered practicing doctor, the interior ministry said.
New statutory guidelines released on Wednesday indicate how any relevant medical records – especially any information on mental health, neurological disorders and addiction – will need to be reviewed as part of the process.
This means that police, for the first time, will be legally bound to follow guidelines to help improve standards and consistency between UK forces.
Police have also been asked to review an applicant’s social media accounts and financial history, as well as conduct domestic violence checks in cases where officers believe more evidence is needed before authorizing a claim. Licence.
The Home Office said: “The background checks that can be carried out by the police are already extensive, ranging from criminal convictions and previous run-ins with the law, to evidence of civil unrest, unmanaged debts or even dishonesty.
“Existing laws also require a police home visit for first-time applicants, to ensure they have the utmost confidence in an individual’s fitness to own a firearm safely. for the public. Two credible referees for a firearm and one for a shotgun must be provided before a license can be issued. “
Jake Davison, 22, killed five people in the Keyham district of the port city of Devon earlier this year before turning the gun on him.
The apprentice crane operator had received mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown from a local helpline.
His use of social media suggested an obsession with “incel” culture, which means “unintentionally bachelor,” as well as an interest in guns.
Questions remain about how he was authorized to have a firearms license.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the Devon and Cornwall forces’ decision to return Davison’s shotgun certificate and weapon to him.
They had been seized in December last year following an assault allegation the previous September and were returned to him in July.
Although the UK has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, Home Secretary Priti Patel said “we must never become complacent about these high standards”, adding: ” These new guidelines prioritize public safety above all else and we have taken considerable care to ensure it is comprehensive and enforceable, having worked closely with the medical, law enforcement and shooting sectors.
The British Medical Association, which helped develop the guidelines, said it was clear that doctors were responsible for providing medical evidence, but that police forces would make the final decision on whether to issue the license.
The organization’s Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said: “As physicians, we support the government’s overall message – that gun ownership is a privilege, not a right – and that guns should be in the hands of those who are considered safe and responsible. “
Debbie Tedds, Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police who leads the work of the National Boards of Chiefs of Police on firearms licensing, welcomed the guidance and said: ‘The police take this issue incredibly seriously. Seriousness and any progress on the already extensive checks will help ensure those who are safe to carry a firearms license will receive one.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said that while the guidelines “will allow applicants to choose who completes their medical check-up if their GP says they are opposed to shooting or insists on excessive charges,” they warned that “flaws remain” in the process and urged the government to “listen again to those who want a pragmatic, cost-effective and purpose-fit licensing system.”