A new report from HMIC has found that it is a miracle that we are not all dead yet. Ok, it hasn’t, but it has found that there are serious failings within a “chaotic” system of firearm licensing. These failures are coming from the licensing authorities, rather than from firearms owners. Therefore the authorities need more powers, apparently.
“We found that, too often, forces are not following the Home Office guidance that is in place, sometimes inexcusably compromising public safety… Unless things change, we run the risk of further tragedies occurring” the author of the report said. Recent tragedies would include a man with dementia who shot his wife and himself. So yeah, tragedies. Now, who’s fault is this?
Is it perhaps a failure by the police to efficiently renew or evaluate licences, so that firearms are not left with people who by all common sense judgement shouldn’t be possessing firearms? Yes. If you can’t remember your own name or are prone to violent rages, you probably should be at home with a cup of tea rather than a loaded shotgun.
The report also suggests that without a legal obligation for GP’s to reply to the police with a medical assessment it is easier for people to obtain a firearm than it is to drive a bus, or, I don’t know, a bin lorry. This can of course go wrong, and ignores the fact that it is much harder to evaluate somebody’s mental state (not just in time an cost terms) than a medical assessment, and also risks stigmatising all with a mental illness people as unstable lunatics who should be kept as far away as possible from firearms (but not knives or cars).
There are undoubtably people who slip through the cracks, but having mandatory medical tests must be measured against the costs of preforming such a large and time heavy duty on around 800,000 people who are generally fit and well, at a time when GP’s feel that they are over stretched and under budgeted. Previously, the NHS has held concerns that it would be unable to secure such data securely.
So where should we be looking if we want to take these threats of “massacres” seriously? Is it from legal firearms owners? No. Is it arguably from people who really want to do us harm and have access to automatic weapons despite licensing, which also means that we walk around unable to defend ourselves? Yes, but that is another post entirely.
With 7 of 43 forces in England and Wales not dealing with expired licences correctly, there was a complete no show of gun massacres and gun homicide’s from previously legally owned firearms. It’s almost like the people who own firearms are not bad people, waiting for the day their license expires so they can go and cover themselves in the blood of innocents. There are examples of people who legally own firearms using them to end their own lives or the lives of others, but it must be taken into consideration that these people are a tiny minority of firearms users in the UK. It is rather more like people buy guns to enjoy them, be it target shooting or hunting, not only enriching themselves but the UK economy to the tune of £2 billion.
Which is why the conclusions of the report are so worrying. HMIC now believe because the police are performing
so well so badly that they are saying that it is almost inevitable that a terrible tragedy will take place, they should have the power of warrantless entry. That is a very, very dangerous power for authorities to have in a supposedly free society, particularly from a service that is already failing in its duty. The police already have the power to enter homes if they believe if there is a credible threat, which is a perfectly resonable restriction on both the police and somebody who might be about to commit a crime.
There has already been hyperbole and massive misconceptions over this report, and guns in general. If it is lives you are concerned about, please deal with things like this first, and how their lives matter less. If it is guns you don’t like, please explain this before you have a go at peaceful individuals. What this report makes clear is that even failures in the licensing system don’t mean that gun owners are a threat to society; they should be left alone to enjoy their sports in peace.