#Law Reform
UK Government
United Kingdom

The current Firearms legislation was introduced in 1997 in the wake of a truly horrific shooting in Dunblane. The intent was that by removing legally held handguns, the volume of handgun associated crime would be reduced. In reality the exact opposite has resulted. Since 1997 the number of offences involving handguns has rocketed. This has effectively disproved any connection between the legal ownership of handguns and gun related crime.

Many have been concerned over the way in which the Dunblane massacre occurred. Thomas Hamilton held a firearms certificate and the handguns he used were legally held. The supporters of the ban cite this as the prime reason for banning the legal ownership of handguns. What they fail to recognise is that the prevailing legislation had within it checks and balances, which if they had been correctly applied would have ensured that Hamilton's license was revoked and all handguns removed from him. Aside from Thomas Hamilton, two other parties bear responsibility for the massacre. These are the individual who witnessed his application for a firearms certificate and who stated that Hamilton was, in their view, a fit person to keep firearms. The other party is the local police, who should have run background checks to satisfy themselves that he was a suitable person, as well as interviewing him and ensuring that place he intended to store any firearms was secure.

The 1997 legislation was a knee jerk reaction. If the same response was applied to other major loss of life caused by an individual, we would have banned all public transport as well as the car. It was more a case of political showboating on the part of New Labour in the run in to a general election. It has demonised thousands of individuals for no benefit. It cost the taxpayer millions in compensation and did nothing to halt the rise in gun crime, notably that involving handguns. It affected a large number of small businesses - the precision engineering involved in the small arms trade has been all but wiped out.

To sum up, the 1997 Firearms Amendment Act has done nothing to reduce crime, has been highly expensive and was unnecessary as existing legislation, if applied, would ensure that handguns were held securely and only owned by responsible individuals.

We, the undersigned call on the UK Government to repeal the 1997 Firearms Amendment Act.

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The Repeal the Handgun Ban petition to UK Government was written by Mark Wright and is in the category Law Reform at GoPetition.