Durham’s Police & Crime Commissioner today expressed his disappointment at a government’s decision to block moves to remove a loop hole in the gun laws.
Ron Hogg spoke out after the government refused to change draft legislation which will mean people with a history of domestic violence can keep applying for firearms licences.
In a vote in Westminster yesterday (Tuesday 16 July), the Conservative-led government rejected a Labour amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which would have allowed police to refuse gun licences for people with a history of domestic violence. The amendment would also mean people with a history of violent conduct, drug and alcohol abuse were also unable to receive a gun licence.
In England and Wales 1 in 3 women killed by their partner is shot with a legally-owned weapon - 64% of these murders involve shotguns. In the last 12 months 75% of the female gun deaths occurred in domestic incidents. In 2009 the figure was 100%.
Earlier this month, Bobby Turnbull, whose mother and sister were murdered on New Year’s Day 2012 in Horden by Michael Atherton, wrote to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat members of the committee of the Anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to urge them to support Labour’s amendment to ban gun licenses from those with a violent history.
Ron Hogg, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham said:
“I am absolutely astonished by the Government's decision to allow those guilty of domestic abuse to apply for firearms. It is a denial of the facts relating to domestic violence and an outrageous insult to all of those who have lost family members in such dreadful circumstances. This was a sensible suggestion by Labour and it’s deeply disappointing that the government have decided to block it.
“My immediate thoughts are with Bobby Turnbull and his family, who after all of their hard work must be extremely disappointed. I'm sure they will not give up in their fight.”
Shadow Minister for Policing David Hanson MP said:
"When two women a week are killed by a husband, partner or ex and in some areas, one in five 999 calls to the police each week are for domestic violence, it is simply shocking that the Government has refused to support the idea that in general people with a history of domestic violence should be refused a firearms licence.
"Gun licences should only be awarded to people that the police have the very highest confidence in, and a history of domestic violence should be a clear marker that someone is unsuitable for gun ownership. Members of the public will be shocked that the government is refusing to do more to stop violence against women, and is happy to let violent and abusive individuals have access to dangerous weapons. The Home Secretary urgently needs to address this with her colleagues.
"Campaigners and families of victims that have been killed by guns have been clear that a change in the law is needed and today Labour tried to work with the government to tighten the law to stop senseless attacks and violence in the future. It is extremely disappointing that the government voted against these measures, but we will be doing more to push for a much needed change."