No gun licence without mental health check-up: Priti Patel is to launch a crackdown on our weapon laws after five were killed in Plymouth rampage

  • Priti Patel to launch major tightening of UK gun laws after Plymouth shooting
  • Doctor’s reports will be mandatory for anyone applying for a legal gun licence 
  • Police will be required to carry out checks of applicants’ social media accounts 

Priti Patel will today announce a major tightening of gun laws under which shooting enthusiasts must obtain a doctor’s report to get a weapons licence.

Under a raft 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.

Murderer Jake Davison had posted a series of hate-fuelled online rants inspired by the misogynistic ‘incel’ or ‘involuntary celibate’ movement.

But his posts – which should have been treated as glaring red flags – appear to have been missed by Devon and Cornwall Police. 

After the mass murder, Shaun Sawyer, the force’s chief constable, said his officers did not look at social media accounts when someone applied for a gun licence because it would be ‘an invasion of privacy’.

Priti Patel will today announce a major tightening of gun laws under which shooting enthusiasts must obtain a doctor’s report to get a weapons licence

The force suspended a shotgun licence held by Davison after he was involved in an alleged assault. 

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 killed his own mother, before shooting himself. 

The new measures mean all 566,000 holders of firearms or shotgun certificates in England and Wales will face additional security checks.

From next month a medical report will be required to obtain or renew a licence, including details of the applicant’s mental health.

It will also have to disclose whether the applicant has any history of substance abuse or a neurological condition.

Social media checks will be made an explicit part of the application process for the first time. 

Police will be required to look at online posts to ensure individuals who want to own a shotgun or rifle have not openly expressed sympathy with the incel movement, Islamism or far-Right groups, for example.

The requirements will be in force for new applicants and for existing holders who are seeking to renew their licences.

Murderer Jake Davison had posted a series of hate-fuelled online rants inspired by the misogynistic ‘incel’ or ‘involuntary celibate’ movement

For the first time they will be mandatory for individual police forces – which run gun licensing – to follow after concerns that implementation has been patchy until now.

Police will also be required to look at applicants’ financial history and check for existing police records with domestic violence or public protection units.

The Home Office will today announce it has reached an agreement with the British Medical Association to introduce the health checks.

Applicants will be required to provide a medical ‘pro forma’ which has been filled out by a doctor who is registered with the General Medical Council.

This month the Independent Office for Police Conduct said it had launched an investigation into the Devon and Cornwall Police staff member who issued and returned Davison’s licence.

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