Plymouth shooting: Gun laws tightened with new medical requirements after Jake Davison killed five people

Applicants for firearms licences in the UK will now have to complete a medical information form, following the shooting of five people in Plymouth in August.

Jake Davison killed his mother, another woman, two men and a three-year-old girl in the attack in a 12-minute rampage in Keyham on 12 August.

The 22-year-old then turned the licenced shotgun on himself.

Since the shooting, investigators have been assessing the conduct of Devon and Cornwall Police staff who were directly involved in the processing and checking of Davison’s original application for a shotgun certificate in 2017.

They have also been looking into the handling of an assault by Davison on two youths in September last year, and the decision to return the weapon to him in July of this year.

The apprentice crane operator had used a local telephone helpline during the pandemic to request mental health support.

All forces in England and Wales were asked to review their current firearm application processes and assess whether they need to revisit any existing licences after police came under criticism for allowing the Plymouth attacker to own a gun.

The Home Office has announced an introduction of “a requirement for the applicant to provide relevant medical information on a detachable proforma contained in the application or registration form” to the Firearms Rule 1998.

The government said no one will be given a firearms licence unless the police have reviewed information from a registered doctor about whether the applicant has any relevant medical history – including mental health, neurological conditions or substance abuse.

It stated: “You must disclose any relevant physical or mental health conditions that you have been diagnosed with or treated for in the past as this may affect your ability to safely possess and use a firearm or shotgun.”

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in the world, but we must never become complacent about these high standards.

“This new guidance prioritises public safety above all else, and we have taken considerable care to ensure it is comprehensive and enforceable, having worked closely with the medical, policing and shooting sectors.

“We are delivering on our promise to the British people to ensure everyone feels safe in their communities.”

Relevant medical conditions which must be disclosed are:

• Acute Stress Reaction or an acute reaction to the stress caused by a trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder

• Suicidal thoughts or self harm or harm to others

• Depression or anxiety

• Dementia

• Mania, bipolar disorder or a psychotic illness

• A personality disorder

• A neurological condition: for example, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases, or epilepsy

• Alcohol or drug abuse

• Any other mental or physical condition, or combination of conditions, which you think may be relevant.

The statutory guidance also sets out other areas the police should review before granting a licence – including looking at an applicant’s social media, financial history, or checking with domestic violence or public protection units.

Davison had links to the “incel” movement – which stands for involuntarily celibate – which is an online subculture involving men who express hostility and extreme resentment towards those who are sexually active, particularly women.

The changes come into effect from today, 1 November 2021.

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