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 Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 12:29 GMT
Farmers affected by new gun laws
Farmer
Plans could affect farmers using guns to control vermin
Farmers in the West Midlands say new gun laws will "jeopardise" their work.

Home Secretary David Blunkett announced new plans which will see a mandatory jail sentence of five years for gun possession.

The announcement comes just days after two teenage girls were killed at a party in Birmingham.

But the National Farmers' Union has called the new controls 'draconian' because they say it will jeopardise the use of legitimate firearms for use on the farm.

David Collier, NFU's West Midlands regional director
New gun laws are 'draconian'

West Midlands regional director of the NFU David Collier, says previous attempts by the government to step-up controls on guns have not always had the desired effect.

"In the wake of the dreadful killings in Hungerford in Berkshire and Dunblane in Scotland we saw a tightening of gun controls.

"And yet it is still possible for petty criminals and gangsters to buy a gun without a licence for a couple of hundred pounds.

"The revulsion experienced by people shocked by the shootings must not be used as the excuse for draconian controls with a far greater impact on legitimate firearm users than on the inner city gangs they are trying to target.

"It is questionable whether these changes had any impact on gun crime."

The new gun laws are also facing opposition from judges who fear the mandatory jail proposal will limit their ability to match justice to circumstances.

Former Master of the Rolls, Lord Donaldson of Lymington, said that Mr Blunkett seemed unwilling to trust judges.

See also:

07 Jan 03 | Politics
06 Jan 03 | Politics
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