UK: Police Should Have Right to Enter Any Gun Owner's Home

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Police officers stand outside the Loftus Road stadium as searches are made of football fans prior to the FA Cup Fourth Round between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea on January 28, 2012 in London, England. Security has been stepped up after QPR player Anton Ferdinand recieved a package containing a bullet in the post. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Dan Kitwood

It's well-known that gun control in the United Kingdom is stricter than strict, which seems to go hand-in-hand with Britain's Orwellian camera surveillance system. Well, British gun control advocates are pushing for the laws to get even more hardcore, according to this post on nraila.org.

A new report was issued by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which assesses the nation's police forces and policies. The agency is taking issue with local firearms licensing practices.

Currently, police can revoke a firearm and shotgun certificate for "irresponsible or anti-social" behavior. The HMIC thinks that's too broad, and wants to provide more stringent guidelines so police can have a definite list of whose certificate to revoke.

The HMIC says this "will help forces to adopt a more robust approach than might have been the case previously in order to err on the side of public safety."

The report also suggests that the licensing authority should become a bigger part of the doctor-patient relationship, the story says. The UK's Form 201 application for a firearm or shotgun certificate already asks the applicant to provide personal medical information along with the contact information of their general practitioner. The also have to sieve a waiver allowing the cops to contact the doctor and allowing the doctor to "share sensitive personal data with the police concerning my physical & mental health."

HMIC's problem is that the doctors "are not obliged to respond to any police request for information about a potential firearms certificate holder. Nor is there any obligation on the GP to note the fact that his or her patient is a firearm certificate holder, which may prompt notification of any medical condition that subsequently arises."

The report says, "At the very least, the system should not allow licensing to take place without a current medical report from the applicant's GP, supported by a process whereby GPs are required, during the currency of a certificate, to notify the police of any changes to the medical circumstances (including mental health) of the certificate holder."

Also needing a revamp, according to the HMIC, is how licensing authorities conduct home inspections. In the UK, licensing authorities conduct home visits to inspect a certificate-applicant's storage arrangements. Recently, police have been given permission to conduct unannounced home visits of certificate holders when presented with "intelligence" regarding the unsafe storage of a firearm.

The report wants a specific SOP for officers to use while searching and conducting physical tests of private property. It also says police should conduct more surprise inspections and that they should be allowed to enter—whether the homeowner wants them to or not.

"It would appear…that the police require the consent of the householder to enter the premises, even where they have intelligence that there may be a concern about the security of a firearm. The absence of a specific legal right on entry means that the police may not be able to carry out their responsibilities on every occasion that they attempt an unannounced visit, if the householder refuses entry," the report says.

"This potential impasse is not in the best interests of the public and…it should be made explicit that the police are required to undertake an unannounced visit where they have the required intelligence that justifies such a course of action. Where this is the case, the police should have a right of access to the firearm, ammunition, and the site where they are stored," the report continues.

Its not yet known to what extent the Home Office will adopt the recommendations in the HMIC report.