A NEW call for stricter gun controls has been made as figures reveal that 101 people ended up in Yorkshire hospitals with shooting injuries last year.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has told The Yorkshire Post that she will push to end a situation in which a gun licence costs less than a fishing licence as Labour gears up for a new showdown with the gun lobby.
The MP’s call is likely to anger the many people who use guns as part of their daily working life.
Last night the British Association for Shooting and Conservation said the Labour Party was once again failing to see that “gun owners in the UK realise that a gun is a privilege not a right and are very responsible”.
The association said shooting generates £120m for the Yorkshire and Humber economy every year – and £2bn nationally.
Across the region some 87,000 people regularly participate in shooting and more than 800,000 hectares of land are influenced by management for shooting.
Government figures on hospital admission for firearms incidents and other categories show that in the last year 101 people attended hospital with gun-related injuries.
Many of the incidents are thought to be linked to farming accidents in rural Yorkshire and air rifle injuries, though several will be down to city gun crime in Leeds and elsewhere.
The figures prompted Labour to call for an increase in gun licence costs, a move which would be probably be opposed by groups such as the NFU and those who use firearms in their daily work.
Ms Cooper, the MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, said: “Gun crime is one of the most dangerous crimes there is, that’s why more needs to be done to keep tackling this kind of violence.
“Government action against smuggling guns and illegal weapons has been cut back, making it harder for the police to tackle illegal guns on the streets too.
“The Government should also do more to toughen up the gun licensing regime. For example, if someone has a history of domestic violence they should be stopped from owning a gun. And the police shouldn’t have to pay £17m to fund gun licences.
“The Prime Minister stopped the police increasing the cost of gun licences, even though they are currently cheaper than fishing licences.
“Subsidising gun licences sends out the wrong signal and shows yet again that this Government has the wrong priorities.”
Gun control has returned to parliament in recent years following shooting incidents such as Derrick Bird’s rampage in Cumbria and the Raoul Moat manhunt in Northumberland.
The NFU has emphasised that incidents involving legally held guns are “few and far between”.
Simon Clarke, from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said: “Gun owners are very responsible people. The problem is not with those who legally own a gun.
“Many people from all walks of life use a gun for work or sport. It is not this Labour idea of posh people going out shooting. There are people from every background who enjoy using a gun in a responsible manner, they should not be punished for that.”
He added: “What we need is a clear distinction from Labour between guns bought illegally and those held legally.
“We have been working with the Home Office to look at how licence costs can rise, but for Ms Cooper to compare this to a fishing licence is just ridiculous. As she will well know, there are many checks in place.”
Hospitals swamped by patients with alcohol poisoning: Page 4; Comment: Page 14.