Home Secretary Theresa May has proposed several changes to gun licensing laws, including a new policy that requires those applying for gun licences to co-sign their application with a current or recent partner, indicating said partner’s approval of the firearms licence request.
Ms May wrote to the Home Affairs Committee (HAC) in response to the committee’s report on firearms control from 2010. She confirmed that the government and Association of Chief Police Officers are working on improving “guidance on how reports of domestic violence should be treated by police considering firearms applications.”
Ms May further asserted that it is “not appropriate” for people with a history of domestic violence to own guns, and that current guidance needs improving to “make it clear that it is not appropriate to issue a firearm or shotgun certificate where there is a history or successive reports of domestic abuse.”
The Home Secretary had looked to Canadian policy for inspiration. In Canada, spouses or recent ex-spouses must sign gun licence application forms. Applicants must undergo extra checks if the spouse refuses to sign.
At present, a temporary ban on firearm ownership is given to criminals who are sentenced to a three-month prison term or longer, while those sentenced to three years or more are given a permanent ban.
Ms May announced that the government is considering broadening its firearm ban to criminals who receive suspended sentences, as well as making it a criminal offence to supply a firearm – suggestions initially turned down by the government after the HAC report.