Priti Patel will announce a major tightening of gun laws under which shooting enthusiasts must get a doctor’s report to get a weapons licence.
Under a catamaran of new requirements, police will also be told to carry out checks of applicants’ social media accounts.
The Home Secretary’s crackdown comes in the wake of the Plymouth shootings in August that left five dead, including a three-year-old, prompting questions over the killer’s legitimately held gun licence.
Killer Jake Davison had posted a string of hate-fuelled online rants inspired by the misogynistic incel or involuntary celibate movement, but his posts, which should have been treated as blazing red flags, seem to have been missed by Devon and Cornwall Police.
After the mass shooting, Shaun Sawyer, the force’s chief constable, said his police didn’t look at social media accounts when someone applied for a gun licence because it would be an invasion of privacy.
The force suspended a shotgun licence held by Jake Davison after he was implicated in an alleged crime, but it was returned to the 22-year-old just weeks before he launched his attack with a pump-action shotgun, in which he also shot his mother, before killing himself.
The new measures mean all 566,000 holders of firearms or shotgun documents in England and Wales will face further security checks.
From next month a medical report will be needed to purchase or renew a licence, including aspects of the applicant’s mental health. It will also have to disclose whether the appellant has any history of substance abuse or a neurological condition, and social media checks will be made an explicit part of the application process for the first time.
Police will be asked to look at online posts to ensure individuals who want to own a shotgun or rifle haven’t openly expressed sympathy with the incel movement, Islamism or far-right groups.
The requirements will be in force for new applicants and for existing holders who are seeking to renew their licences, and for the first time, they will be compulsory for individual police forces, which run gun licencing, to follow after concerns that implementation has been sketchy up until now.
Police will also be expected to look at applicants’ financial records and check for existing police records with domestic violence or public protection units.
This is just common sense in this wretched country. Why on earth would you give a gun licence for firearms, without a mental health check anyhow? Although most people are sensible, some people are not sensible enough!
And let’s face it, most people can be identified as having a mental health problem these days, which means almost everyone will not be permitted a licence, unless you’re one of the Royal Family, because of course, they’re the sanest of all!
But of course, this law will have consequences, like everything we do does. So now, if someone has a mental health issue and is a gun owner, they will have to get a mental health check to renew their licence, or will they just stay away from the doctors, get sicker and then do something stupid which could have been prevented by having proper treatment because depression, which is a mental health problem is experienced by numerous people and with proper treatment is controllable.
You will be able to apply for a gun license, but just how will doctors with no behavioural health or sociology training accomplish the questioning? And who will this be reported to? And how will this new medical information be protected from disclosure?