MPs back gun ban for criminals
Criminals who receive suspended jail terms should be stripped of any gun licences they hold, MPs reviewing firearms laws have said.
Current legislation in England and Wales is a "complex and confused" mess, and tighter restrictions on gun licences are needed, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said.
The review comes after taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people in a shooting spree in west Cumbria in June. He was sentenced 20 years ago to six months in prison, suspended for a year, for stealing decorating materials from his then employer.
Bird also had a drink-driving conviction and had been arrested over claims he "demanded payment with menaces" after a customer made off from his cab without paying.
Bird, 52, was allowed to keep his shotgun certificate, which he got just before his 17th birthday, because neither of his convictions warranted an immediate custodial sentence to trigger an automatic ban.
The MPs said: "We do not believe it appropriate for those convicted of offences which are serious enough to warrant a custodial sentence to retain their firearms.
"We are also of the view that those who receive shorter custodial sentences should not be allowed to possess firearms and recommend accordingly."
Last month, an independent review ordered by Cumbria Constabulary proposed that anyone handed a jail term of three months or more which is wholly suspended should be banned from owning licensed weapons for five years.
Keith Vaz, the committee chairman, said: "The terrible murders perpetrated by Derrick Bird in June highlighted gaps in the current licensing regime, notably around the ease with which convicted criminals can gain access to firearms.
"We have heard evidence of further cases in which individuals applying to obtain a licence for firearms have lied about their mental health problems and have subsequently gone on to misuse their weapons. Current gun law is a mess. It needs to be simplified, (and made) clear and consistent to be properly understood by both those using firearms for legitimate purposes and those in charge of enforcing the law."