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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 09:42 GMT
How can guns be made less accessible?
Brocock ME38 pocket gun
A new amnesty on people handing in illegal firearms has been announced by ministers after a "guns summit" in London.

The forum, hosted by Home Secretary David Blunkett, was attended by police, customs and immigration officers as well as community leaders.

Issues discussed included gaps in firearms legislation, the rise in small arms imports from the Balkans and measures to give witnesses to shootings better protection.

Another summit will be held in three months time to monitor progress.

News of the amnesty comes as police warned of a growing threat from guns disguised as everyday objects such as pens and torches.

How can guns be made less accessible? Is an amnesty a valid solution? Will tougher penalties for those possessing guns work? Tell us what you think.

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Britain is a prime example of gun laws simply not being effective in reducing gun crime. Given that since a complete ban on handguns following the Dunblane tragedy, handgun crime has skyrocketed, surely it must be concluded that strict gun laws do not affect criminals? Law-abiding gun owners make an easy target for a government that wants to score political points for being "tough on guns"- despite the fact that targeting law-abiding owners will not reduce gun crime. I have seen exactly this happen in Australia.
Peter Howe, Australia

With the toughest gun laws in Europe still not proving effective in reducing gun crime how about letting the law-abiding defend themselves? Criminals might think twice about attacking if they were potentially facing an armed and dangerous opponent rather than a helpless victim.
Pru, United States

We don't need more laws we just need to enforce the very strict ones we already have

Andy, UK
The problem isn't the guns, it's the total inability of the police to police the streets! If people carrying illegal thought the might get stopped and arrested it might deter them. But the chances of them being arrested are about zero. We don't need more laws we just need to enforce the very strict ones we already have. We need less "sound-bites from Ministers and more Police on the streets. After all, when did you last see a Police Officer on the beat?
Andy, UK

Suggestions that gun crime and disorder in general are related to music, films and games is nonsense. Or do we still think listening to "Rock 'n Roll" is bad for you? Politicians, the media and the public should start being "tough on the causes of crime" instead of looking for meaningless scapegoats.
Jim, UK

Hand guns have already been banned. It is the market for guns that is the problem. This market derives from three principle sources, the first is the large number of relative newcomers who are not integrated into UK society and do not accept its norms. The second is the imported gangster culture which is driven by greed and drugs. The third is the political taboo which disallows us from clearly identifying particular problems with particular groups of people. The solution begins with an acceptance that some people do not want the kind of society the rest of us would like to see.
John W, NZ/UK

This Government's standard response to such problems is to launch a spin campaign to convince the public that they are taking action - it is far easier than doing something effective.
Chris, UK

It is not without some cynicism that I note that both Britain and Canada were far more peaceful when the sale of firearms was far less restricted than it is now. I urge your readers to honestly research the rates of crime 100 years ago, and note the correlation between the ever-restricted right of self-defence, and the rise in crime in the UK.
Donovan Sterling, Canada

Offer an amnesty

Namabanda Mubukwanu, UK
The new legislation should offer an amnesty for those who surrender their weapons to police within a time frame. We have seen this policy of amnesty in parts of Africa such as Angola and Sierra Leone.
Namabanda Mubukwanu, UK

We should also ban toy guns for children. I can't think of a sicker, more twisted 'toy' and corrupting influence on a child. And the age limit should be raised for movies that feature an excessive use of guns. Never mind 18, we should introduce a 21 certificate for violent films. And maybe the BBC could help by not showing as many war films at Christmas and on Sundays. Drop the violence completely.
Iain Harrison, UK

Ban gun shop websites! I just put in gun shop in a search engine and came up with at least 700 results. This is too much.
Helen, UK

Make the punishment a good deterrent!

Steve, UK
How about prison for the rest of their natural lives with hard labour and no chance of parole if a gun is used in any crime? Make the punishment a good deterrent!
Steve, UK

The latest figures prove that the government's current legislation on firearms is not working. Will making this legislation tougher solve the problem? In a word - no. The people that are obtaining these weapons are the kind of people that have no respect for the law or their fellow citizens. Why not stop wasting money on actions that are all show and no substance and tackle the real problems like how are these weapons getting here in the first place and why aren't they getting destroyed the moments they are impounded?
Ian, UK

Gun crime is hugely related to how guns are portrayed in the media, especially the music industry. Some gangster rappers glamorise guns in their music. If that can be tackled, then gun crime will fall.
Daniel, UK

Deterring crime with severe sentences is a very ineffective measure. Unless one lives in a police state, criminals just assume that they won't get caught. A more effective method would be to extend the weapons amnesty concept by offering a reward for weapons that is set higher than their street value. Of course, this has to be handled carefully to avoid fuelling demand. It would also face opposition from the tabloid reading types, but if it works, so what? Fighting crime shouldn't be the crude popularity contest that it is.
Warwick, UK

Get some judges who actually have a faint grip on reality and get them to lock away criminals properly. Average 18 month sentences for gun crime is pathetic and doesn't worry people who have probably already been locked up a few times. Then you need to target the suppliers of these guns and lock them up permanently.
Simon, UK

Another knee-jerk reaction from the government

Graham, England
The significant point here is that the gun laws introduced under Labour in 1997 have had no effect whatsoever on tackling gun crime. This is another knee-jerk reaction from the government following the Dunblane incident which served solely to make life difficult for the law abiding citizen. It is obvious now - as it was then - that criminals do not buy guns from gun clubs. The sooner we can rid this country of President Blair the better.
Graham, England

One obvious solution is to make them illegal. If that doesn't work then, er, make them more illegal. Oops, sorry, I forgot, the government tried that and it didn't work. How about banning people from wearing clothes, so they can't hide a gun if they have it?
Dave Tankard, UK

I doubt that tougher penalties alone will work. The government should go for a complete ban on the import of all replica guns, and a ban on air guns, except in licensed clubs. If it puts a few gun shops out of business, then I would rather my taxes be used to buy them out than see the current trend in shootings continue.
Nick, UK

I take it the law abiding will suffer as usual?

Gordon, UK
Once again the government, with the backing of various police chiefs are looking at bringing in new laws to "control gun crime", despite having the most draconian laws in Europe which they appear singularly unable to enforce! I take it the law abiding will suffer as usual?
Gordon, UK

Funny isn't it - the government announce all kinds of things they're going to do about gun crime, and then days later we find out that the rate has doubled since they came to power. You don't think they're cynically managing the news (and you) do you? No, perish the thought!
Andy Edmonds, UK

Five years for every round possessed and 10 years for every round fired, that would be a deterrent. An Uzi clip being fired would put someone in jail for 450 years, that would deter all but the most hardened criminals.
Drb, UK

Guns will become inaccessible to law abiding citizens. Criminals however will still be able to get their hands on weapons.
Doug, UK

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