As in the US, the recent tragedy in Plymouth stems from the individual’s right to own a gun (Relatives of wounded angry about return of Plymouth gunman’s licence, 16 August). Guns only have one purpose – to kill animals or people. Shotguns are ideally adapted for both. They are usually the weapon of choice in domestic murder-suicides committed by men.
Why does a person living in an urban environment need a shotgun? In the 1960s, my gamekeeper father used to despair at the ease with which poachers in urban areas could acquire shotguns. Then the issue of shotgun licences was a mere formality – and, given the ease with which men such as the perpetrator of the Plymouth shooting acquire such guns, little seems to have changed. A change in legal and policing culture is required. People should not have the right to possess something whose purpose is to kill. Shotgun licences, particularly in urban areas, should be denied, unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise. Shotgun owners should be rigorously monitored. If police don’t have the resources to do this, gun licences should not be issued.
• As the tragic circumstances of the Plymouth shootings unfold, there are questions that remain unanswered. It seems that Jake Davison’s shotgun certificate was properly revoked and should never have been reinstated.
While politicians and the public demand more rigorous screening before shotgun certificates are granted, I hear no mention of the lack of mental health support that may have prevented Davison’s well-documented issues from deteriorating to the extent whereby he committed this atrocity. Clinician involvement might have informed the decision-makers of the dangers that Davison could have presented as a shotgun certificate holder.
The mental health charity Mind says that the provisions of the 2021 budget “still fall far short of what is needed to address the mental health crisis we are facing”.
The UK has some of the toughest restrictions to obtaining shotgun and firearms certificates. An equal contributor to this appalling disaster might have been the inadequate response to the mental health problems of the perpetrator.
Ampleforth, North Yorkshire
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