Taxpayers ‘subsidising gun owners’, says police commissioner

Police commissioner Ron Ball
Police commissioner Ron Ball

Rugby taxpayers are heavily subsidising gun ownership in the county – and Warwickshire police commissioner Ron Ball is calling for change.

He says that a system where it is cheaper to own a gun licence than a fishing licence cannot continue – and has welcomed Home Office proposals to increase the cost of a five year licence from £50 to £92.

Mr Ball said: “We are fortunate to live in a country where illegal firearms do not figure in most of our lives. There are a number of reasons for that and a significant one of them is that we have a strict licensing system.

“What we need is a system that enables the legitimate use of firearms but prevents, as far as possible, weapons being available to those who want to do harm.

“I believe we have the balance broadly right in this country. What we do not have right is the situation in covering the costs of the licensing system. In effect the taxpayer is heavily subsidising gun owners and that is very difficult to justify.”

Mr Ball cited a study stating that taxpayers are effectively subsidising gun owners to the tune of £17 million a year across the country.

And he added that the costs involved in carrying out the necessary checks needs to be covered – with the cost of a licence having remain unchanged since 2001.

Mr Ball said: “I am not ‘anti-gun’, and I have no wish to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of people who need or want to use firearms legitimately.

“I need them to appreciate that I can’t justify committing significant resources to the licencing process at the expense of other areas.”