Dunblane Massacre Resource Page

Michael Howard's letter "FIREARMS CONTROLS"

Transcribed from scans of one the original letters.

18 OCT 1996

Dear Colleague


As you will know, I made a statement in the House today to give the Government's response to Lord Cullen's recommendations on firearms controls in the report of his Inquiry into the events at Dunblane School on 13 March 1996. Copies of the Government response to Lord Cullen's report are available in the Vote Office.

The Government intends to impose a ban on all handguns being kept at home. In addition we will outlaw all higher calibre handguns above .22 calibre. This will put them on par with machine guns and high powered semi-automatic rifles. Only vets and similar professionals will be able to keep such guns.

The only handguns which will continue to be permitted to be owned by ordinary members of the public are those which take .22 rimfire cartridges. These are substantially less powerful than conventional full-calibre handguns, which are principally intended for police and military use. .22 handguns will have to be kept under the most stringent conditions of security in gun clubs. Gun clubs will need a licence before they can operate for this purpose, and they will need to satisfy the police that their premises meet detailed specifications as to security. These specifications will be drawn up with consultation with the police service in England and Wales, and Scotland, and with other interested parties. It will be the responsibility of each chief constable to ensure that a gun club in his area meets the specifications before a license is granted by myself or Michael Forsyth.

160,000 guns, 80% of those at present privately owned, will be outlawed and removed from circulation. We will pay fair compensation to their owners.

We have accepted all 23 of Lord Cullen's proposals for strengthening the licensing arrangements for firearms. These include:

In addition to these proposals of Lord Cullen, we intend to take four other steps:

We intend to introduce a Bill very shortly. With the co-operation of all Parties it could become law very quickly and handguns removed from people's homes. I hope our proposals have your support.