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Firearms Licensing: Facts in Danger of Neglect

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: 1999 Pages: 55-65
C Pease; K Pease
Date Published
11 pages
This paper reports the findings of an analysis of routine firearm statistics that may have been neglected by the Cullen Inquiry into a major violent incident in Dunblane, Scotland.
A man entered Dunblane Primary School in March 1996 and shot students and staff, and 17 small children died. The perpetrator had his firearm license renewed twice after behaving in ways that caused police officers who encountered him to worry about his stability. Despite the publicity surrounding this incident, the process of granting and revoking firearm licenses in Scotland remained substantially unchanged by the Firearms Act of 1997. The analysis of firearm statistics in relation to the Dunblane incident indicates firearm revocations and prohibitions, when designed to prevent tragedy, will decline in use as periods without tragedy become longer. In addition, the analysis shows the effective regulation of human conduct that consumes time and effort and where disaster is rare depends on the imagination, experience, and anxieties of those immediately involved. Finally, the author concludes the predictability of firearm regulation practices may decline over time as priorities change. The importance of firearm licensing in police crime prevention efforts is discussed. 13 notes, 1 table, and 6 figures