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Plans to ban all handguns except small calibre target pistols - none of which will be allowed to be kept at home - ...
Plans to ban all handguns except small calibre target pistols - none of which will be allowed to be kept at home - were announced in parliament today by home secretary Michael Howard.

They include tough new rules on gun sales, police powers, certification, types of ammunition, and the security of gun clubs.

On availability of handguns, the government has gone further than Lord Cullen's recommendation.

All handguns will be removed from people's homes. Higher powered handguns will be completely outlawed, leaving only .22 rimfire guns which are used in target shooting.

These will have to be kept securely in approved clubs.

This measure will mean the destruction of around 160,000 of the 200,000 legally-held handguns.

The government accepts all of Lord Cullen's 23 other recommendations on control, ownership and licensing of firearms.

Mr Howard said he aims to introduce a bill this month, and to seek Royal Assent by Christmas. Talks will be held with the police so that the measures can be brought in quickly.

Compensation will be paid for owners of newly-prohibited guns based on the market value.

The government's proposals include:

-- A severe tightening of mail order sales of all guns;

-- A new police power to suspend temporarily without appeal any firearm or shotgun certificate where there are worries over safety;

-- Applicants for a firearm or shotgun certificate would have to supply two references - one from a club official and one from someone who has known him for at least two years;

-- A ban on expanding ammunition ('dum-dum' bullets);

-- A requirement on gun owners to tell police if they buy, sell, destroy, transfer or deactivate any gun; and A new police power to revoke a certificate where the good reason for possessing the gun no longer exists.

Anyone wanting to shoot a handgun will need a firearm certificate from the police, ending the present system where a person without a certificate can shoot a handgun at an approved gun club.

Users would also have to be a member of a club where that gun could be safely stored.

Limited exceptions would be made in the very few cases where professionals such as vets require guns for the humane killing of animals.

All rifle and pistol clubs will have to be licensed by the secretary of state. Clubs will have to satisfy the police that they have met new stringent standards of security to get a licence. These will include: reinforced walls to ensure that thieves could not break into a club building; high security standards for the safes in which gun and ammunition would have to be stored; strong perimeter fences; burglar alarms linked directly to the police; access control including metal detectors to prevent guns being illicitly removed; and regular and stringent inspection arrangements to ensure that club security was of an adequate standard.

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