Calls for tighter controls on gun ownership
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Calls for tighter gun control have been made after a report revealed 37,000 weapon are possessed by gun owners in the north of Wales.
Speaking at a North Wales Police and Crime Panel at Conwy’s Bodlondeb HQ (today), Flintshire councillor Chris Bithell called for tighter legislation for gun control.
A report revealed that there were 2,783 firearm certificates in North Wales with these owners possessing 10,280 guns.
The report also revealed there were 9,571 shotgun certificates in North Wales – with the total number of shotguns totalling at 27,404.
The panel heard there were 45 registered firearm dealers in the region and that gun owners must reapply for the licence every five years.
Firearm dealers must reapply every three years.
But Cllr Bithell believes it is time for a change in the law, arguing every gun owner should have a licence for every weapon owned.
He said: “Does the shotgun licence apply to a single weapon? Of course, the answer is there (in the report), and it doesn’t.
“And again, in some people’s view, they could have a small arsenal with one particular certificate, and I think that is a matter of concern really when you add them all together there is quite a number of weapons in circulation in North Wales as a consequence of that.
“Again, there’s no criticism of North Wales Police, the commissioner, or anybody else. I mean that’s the law.
“A certificate can cover one weapon. (But) there’s no maximum or minimum, and I think that should cause some alarm really because again although the owners of these guns and the holders of these certificates and the licences may well be bona fide people, farmers and so on, who use them very legitimately in their work and life, but the danger is break-ins and then these weapons get into the wrong hands.”
He added: “I think it should be raised nationally. I think it should be one certificate per weapon really so we can keep some sort of grip on this. You are talking about 37,000 plus weapons in the North Wales area, and that’s a matter of some concern.”
Cllr Bithell added that he was pleased North Wales Police did refuse and withdraw some firearms licences.
Crime commissioner Andy Dunbobbin then said he would see if he could lobby nationally for the legislation to be changed, but that the police were currently bound by the law.
A senior police officer attending responded.
“You’re absolutely right. This is generally a shotgun licence or a firearms licence that people have,” he said.
“The more weapons you have the (more) different security arrangements that need to be in place in your house.
“So for a certain number of weapons, you have to have different cabinets, alarms, etc. As far as licences being revoked or refused, that’s slightly different. Everyone who applies, we do national computer checks on them. We do checks with all police forces across the UK, and that includes criminal convictions and intelligence that we might possess about individuals.
“If that comes up with things that are of concern to us, and we don’t think they are a fit and proper person to have a shotgun or firearm, then we would look to refuse to grant them (the gun licence).
“If something then transpires while they are a firearms or a shotgun holder, say a domestic at the home address, or if we have information that someone has alcohol issues, and we also do checks about people who live at their address, so if we have concerns we are able to revoke people’s licences.”
Cllr Bithell then asked if the checks included medical reports, and he was told it did but that doctors were not obliged by law to provide them.
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