UK New Gun License Requirement Illustrates Problem With Similar Efforts in US

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File

Sometimes, it's fun to sit around with your friends and discuss your ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends, depending on which is more applicable. You can hear some absolute horror stories--stories that might be outliers in the grand scheme of things, but are still horrifying.

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My own involves an ex who I lived with for six months before learning that literally everything other than her name was an outright lie, including her marital status.

Seriously.

Others have had horror stories as they were trying to extracate themselves from a horrific relationship. Their partners were still, technically, partners in the legal sense, but were dangerous people. More than one such person got a gun in order to protect themselves from said partner.

And a new UK gun license requirement--one that many here in the US want to see in place as well--probably wouldn't have worked out well for those folks.

The partners of all gun licence applicants are being asked questions for the first time as five police forces in England and Wales seek to strengthen licensing processes.

The forces - Gwent, the Metropolitan Police, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire - are testing a questionnaire designed to build a more detailed picture of anyone who wants to own a gun, with a particular focus on domestic abuse.

The initiative, called Project Titanium, has been developed by Gwent Police with the help of domestic abuse survivors.

It has already resulted in some applications being refused or existing licences being revoked.

Insp Jodie Davies, from the force's firearms licensing team, said: “We are absolutely not saying applicants will be domestic abuse perpetrators, but any opportunity to gather information is welcome.

"We've had one case where the partner was contacted and stated that she couldn't speak to the firearms officer at her home because she was being controlled and coerced.

"The officer met with her in a different location, she disclosed a number of serious concerns, that licence was then refused and we were able to put safeguarding in place for that person."

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Now, here's the question literally no one is asking. Are these people being honest?

This is about partners, which means it goes both ways. How many people applying for gun permits are doing so to protect themselves from a partner? What these departments are doing is basically walking up to potential abusers and saying, "Is it OK if the target of your abuse has the means to defend themselves?"

What do you think such a person would say?

While I understand what the purpose of this measure is--it's meant to actually keep abusers from owning guns--the truth of the matter is that this only works correctly if the partners being spoken to are being honest.

Considering my own relationship with a pathological liar, you might understand why I'm less than comfortable entrusting people's gun rights to such a scheme.

"But this is the UK, Tom. It's not going to happen here."

Unfortunately, that's not necessarily true. New York, for example, requires contact information for any adult, including your partner, that lives at your address. One has to assume that they'll contact them or at least reserve the right to do so. What if that partner is the one you want to defend yourself from?

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This story might be from the UK, but it's already here on American shores and plenty of people want to see this nationwide. 

Those people are apparently far more trusting than I am that no one would lie about their partner's tendencies.

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