One gun licence a day is granted in North Wales

Jul 13 2010

MORE than one gun licence a day is handed out in North Wales.

Police granted 121 firearms and 320 shotgun certificates in 2009/10.

The Daily Post can reveal 20 people were refused a gun licence over that period, and 31 had their licence revoked.

The numbers are slightly down on 2008/9, when 127 firearms and 357 shotgun certificates were processed.

Overall, 2,631 guns were out "on issue" in North Wales last year.

In the wake of taxi driver Derrick Birdís killing spree in Cumbria last month, where he shot dead 12 people before taking his own life, local politicians called for tighter restrictions on gun control in North Wales, warning: "We cannot afford another massacre."

However, they agreed people who work in the farming, shooting and gamekeeping industries need shotguns for rural industry to survive.

North Wales Assembly member Janet Ryder told the Daily Post: "I think all firearms should be strictly controlled and access to them carefully monitored, especially in the wake of the tragic deaths in Cumbria.

"There is a need for farmers, for example, to have access to shotguns as part of their work but other than that access should be tightly regulated through licensed clubs. We cannot afford another massacre."

Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones added: "I have always been concerned at the number of shotgun licences that are issued.

"Rather than call for a ban perhaps we should look at ways we can improve the licence stage to be more rigorous."

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar was not surprised so many licences had been handed out, and said: "The fact that more than one-in-10 licences have been either refused or revoked in the last year is an encouraging sign which points to effective enforcement of the strict licence conditions."

Aberconwy AM Gareth Jones agreed, adding: "The police are under great pressure to strike the correct balance between administering the gun licensing laws and combating those dangerous criminals who almost always act outside the regulatory system."

In response, Christopher Graffius, director of communications at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said politicians should support the UKís tough gun laws.

He said: "Access to legal firearms in Wales is strictly controlled and monitored and regulated to a very high standard by the police.

"The number of legal firearms used in crime is so small that national statistics donít even pick it up.

"In addition, sporting shooting is worth £73m to the Welsh economy and provides the full-time equivalent of 2,600 jobs. It is also involved in the management of half a million hectares in Wales, with shooting spending £9.6m on conservation and supporting the equivalent of 340 full-time conservation jobs."

NFU Cymru President Ed Bailey added: "Firearms of all sorts are used safely, responsibly and legally by farmers who need guns for pest and vermin control."