We probably have some of the strictest set of gun control laws in the western world.  If we went back to 1981, the year I was born, the gun laws were remarkably different people with the correct license could own fire arms of their choice and you could go recreational shooting at a firing range.    

However in a 9 year period between 1987 and 1996 we had two great tragedies in Hungerford and Dunblane.  The first saw the banning of semi-automatic rifles and the latter saw the banning of handguns, and leading to tighter controls on shotguns and bolt action rifles. 

Now in both cases it wasn’t the Government deciding that after the events they would ban them, but it was campaigns from the newspapers and pressure groups that lead to the ban’s that we have.   Focusing on the two events pointing out that if they had been illegal then they never would have happened.  Which lead to increased pressure on the Government and the ultimate bans.  Now I am not belittling the two atrocities, they were both horrific acts.

However I think the kneejerk reaction to them in the banning of firearms was over the top and un-proportionate.  The problem with Hungerford, Dunblane, Cumbria and latter Raoul Moat was not the weapons but the owners of the guns.  Had we a system where people who purchased or kept guns were regularly checked for mental health or other problems, say every 2 year, then there is a chance we would have caught one or maybe all of these people before anything actually happened. 

People will argue that this is too much hassle and will stretch the recourses, but this system already exists so it would be easy to implement it to England and Wales.  It’s not as if it’s from some far off land like USA or Canada or even a European country, but from part of the UK.  It’s the system they have in Northern Ireland.  So we know that this system works and could implement it very easily which would keep tight controls on gun ownership, while allowing people who want to own a gun to own one.

The anti-gun lobby will also argue that with gun’s being illegal it will reduce gun crime, which is a flawed argument to make as gun crime has increased year on year since the bans.  Banning gun’s doesn’t stop the criminals getting hold of guns, and if you are going to use a gun in a crime you would have to be stupid to use a licensed gun to commit the crime.  If criminals want to use guns they will use them regardless of if they are legal or illegal. 

I would probably call for not only the repeal of the two bans that we have in place, but I would go further and ask that if people wished they could carry a hand gun openly and own a fire arm for the purposes of self-defence an option that has never been allowed in the mainland United Kingdom.