Police subsidise gun owners

It’s a strange world.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the UK is the country that decided the best way to stop binge drinking was to allow pubs to stay open longer and where plain packaging for cigarettes was stopped at the last minute because the tobacco companies were afraid it would result in more tobacco smuggling. All madness, but not as mad as this.

It seems that it costs around £200 for the police to issue a gun licence. That’s reasonable given that it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands. The problem is that the price of a gun licence has not gone up since it was set at £50 in 2001. Recent attempts at an increase have apparently been blocked by our pheasant-shooting and deer-stalking prime minister.

The net result is that police forces across the country are subsidising gun owners to the tune of £17m a year. Money that might have been used to chase down illegal firearms is being given to people who want to own guns.

The most likely consequence of this financial pressure is that police forces will not be able to continue to give the same level of scrutiny to gun licence applicants. That’s not good for anyone, particularly the police themselves.