Social media checks for gun licence applicants after Plymouth shooting

Monday, 16th August 2021, 10:50 am
Flowers at Biddick Drive in Plymouth, after gunman Jake Davison killed five people in a mass shooting. (Photo by William Dax/Getty Images)

Applicants for a gun licence will be subject to social media checks in the wake of the mass shooting in Plymouth, the Government has announced.

Questions continue to mount over how gunman Jake Davison, 22, obtained a firearms licence before carrying out his shooting spree which left five people - including a three-year-old girl - dead.

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The Government said that it was preparing statutory guidance to help ensure higher standards of decision-making for police firearms licensing applications. 

This will cover social media checks of those applying for permission to own a firearm or shotgun, according to the Home Office.

All police forces in England and Wales are being asked to review their current firearm application processes, as well as assess whether they need to revisit any existing licences.

It comes after former Metropolitan Police chief Lord Stevens told The Sunday Telegraph officers should trawl through online accounts of people applying for licences to ensure that “guns do not fall into the hands of dangerous people”.

Davison’s social media suggested obsession with ‘incel’ culture

Social media usage by Davison suggested an obsession with “incel” culture, meaning “involuntary celibate”, as well as an interest in guns and the US.

An investigation is already under way by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence. It will look at why Devon and Cornwall Police returned Davison’s gun and firearms permit to him last month, after it was removed following an allegation of assault in September last year.

Tributes paid to ‘loving husband, father, grandfather and best friend’

The city will fall silent today as a sign of respect, while another candlelit vigil is due to take place on the Jubilee Green in Saltash at 8.45pm in honour of the five victims.

Among those killed in Thursday’s atrocity was Mr Washington, the fourth victim during Davison’s shooting spree, who was gunned down in front of horrified onlookers in a park in the Keyham area.

In a statement released by Devon and Cornwall Police, Mr Washington’s family called him a “devoted” family man and a “loving husband, father, grandfather and best friend”.

His widow Sheila described him as her “soulmate”, saying: “Fly high, you’ve earnt your angel wings.”

Davison shot his 51-year-old mother Maxine Davison, also known as Maxine Chapman, at a house in Biddick Drive before he went into the street and shot dead Sophie Martyn, aged three, and her father, Lee Martyn, 43.

In the 12-minute attack, Davison then killed Mr Washington in a nearby park before shooting 66-year-old Kate Shepherd, who later died at Derriford Hospital.

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