Gun owners in Lincolnshire to face tougher health checks

Image caption Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor said the force would not grant a licence without an up-to-date medical assessment

A police force has introduced new rules forcing gun users to provide an up-to-date assessment from their GP when applying for or renewing a licence.

The Lincolnshire force, which claims to be the first in the country to introduce the rules, said they would safeguard gun owners and the public.

Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor said they would help to assess a person's suitability to own a gun.

"Just assuming someone is safe to have a gun is extremely dangerous," he said.

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There are currently about 20,000 licence-holders and 50,000 guns in Lincolnshire.

Under the previous system, the force was guided to assume there were no medical issues if an applicant's GP did not respond within 21 days, Mr Naylor said.

"This means that across the country, licences to hold a gun or shotgun are sometimes granted without medical information being obtained by the police, or consideration given to health issues that may increase risk to gun ownership."

He said the new system would "provide a better understanding of an individual's suitability to have a certificate".

"We will not be granting anyone a licence unless we have received a medical report from their GP," he added.

The force said the restrictions would also reduce the number of incidents where firearms licence-holders took their own lives.

The rules apply to new applications from 4 April and renewals, which are required every five years, from 1 August.

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