Shooters’ fears were not realised as the government’s response to the Home Affairs Committee’s report into firearms control did not propose any major changes to the law.
Most notably, the government did not accept the recommendation to reclassify shotgun licences along the lines of Section 1 firearms, stating it was “not presently minded to change the law bearing in mind that the large number of shotguns currently owned (1.3 million) would create a significant new workload for firearms licensing departments.”
The government also said it “has no plans to ban or licence air weapons,” indicating it would prefer to tackle the few who misuse airguns rather than most airgunners, who use their guns safely and responsibly.
The general tone of the response was that the government viewed existing laws as being fit for purpose and that widespread reforms were not needed. On the issue of simplifying the law, it said: “New law might create further uncertainty by adding the opportunity for new legal arguments to be made. The government believes the best way forward in the short term is to update and revise Home Office guidance in a way that presents the legislation as clearly and simply as possible.”
The Countryside Alliance and BASC both expressed general support for the government’s findings. Countryside Alliance shooting manager David Taylor said: “We are pleased that the government has taken a sensible approach, and has clearly listened to the evidence.
“Too often there is a rush to legislate, which penalises law-abiding shooters while doing nothing to address the real problem of gun crime.”
BASC, meanwhile, described itself as “delighted” at what it called a “measured and sensible view of firearms legislation.” It did, however, note concern that the government planned a further discussion regarding shotgun licence fees, stating that “issues of efficiency and service will need to be addressed before any increase in fees is justified.”