Plymouth shooting: police must explain return of gunman’s licence, says Starmer

Labour leader also suggests gun licensing laws could be urgently tightened in the wake of Jake Davison shooting dead five people

Keir Starmer has said police have questions to answer over how a gunman obtained a firearms licence after it was revoked but reinstated following an anger management course.

The Labour leader also suggested that gun licensing laws could be urgently tightened in the wake of Jake Davison shooting dead five people in Plymouth before turning the weapon on himself.

“I think there are wider questions,” he said. “How on earth did he get a gun licence in the first place? What back-up checks were done?

“I am glad there is the investigation already into why the licence was returned. I do think there are wider questions here and that could involve a review of the gun licensing laws because there are other questions here that urgently need to be addressed.”

The home secretary, Priti Patel, paid her respects to the victims of the mass shooting in Keyham by placing a floral tribute near to the scene. She was joined on her visit on Saturday by Devon and Cornwall police chief constable Shaun Sawyer and local Labour MP Luke Pollard, then spoke to members of the local neighbourhood watch team.

“It’s tragic beyond words, really, really tragic, for a range of reasons, and obviously for those involved,” she said.

Home secretary Priti Patel, with Luke Pollard, centre right, Labour (Co-op) MP for Plymouth, brings her visit floral tributes in memory of the victims of the shootings.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, brings floral tributes in memory of the victims of the shootings, with Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation is under way into the possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence by Jake Davison, who also killed his mother before killing himself. They were returned to him in July after being removed by police in December 2020 after an allegation of assault in September 2020, the watchdog said.

The IOPC regional director David Ford said the referral related to Thursday’s events as well as “police contact with Jake Davison prior to the incident, including the force’s role and actions regarding firearms licensing”.

It will also look at whether the force had information concerning Davison’s mental health and if this was “appropriately considered”.

Plymouth city council’s leader, Nick Kelly, said the investigation could reveal wider issues to do with the scrutiny given to people who are granted firearms licences.

“My own view with regards to guns is I think why do you need a gun in the first place?” he said. “If there’s a very legitimate reason, well I would not want to take guns away from everybody, but I think gun crime in Plymouth is unheard of, perhaps nationally there’s more of an issue.

“We just need to review it, look at the facts in this specific case and hopefully if tighter legislation is required that will be forthcoming.”

Davison’s social media use suggests an obsession with the “incel” culture – meaning “involuntary celibate” – which has amassed a following online among some men who feel they are being oppressed by women due to a perceived lack of sexual interest. He also wrote online about his desire to own particular firearms.


Mattha Busby

The GuardianTramp

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