Jake Davison: How could Plymouth gunman get a firearm licence?

13 August 2021, 14:50 | Updated: 13 August 2021, 14:59

Jake Davison had obtained a firearm licence
Jake Davison had obtained a firearm licence. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A gunman's shooting spree has left five people dead in Plymouth and a community asking how the violence could have happened.

A three-year-old girl was among those killed by Jake Davison, a 22-year-old who held a firearms licence.

Police are now investigating his online activity and the weapon he used in the shooting.

Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said a firearm was recovered from the scene, which was used to fire multiple shots within a six minute timeframe.

Witnesses described it as a pump action shotgun – though it is unknown if it was the weapon he was licensed to use.

Read more: Plymouth shooting: Jake Davison officially named as gunman who killed five

Read more: 'Unspeakably awful': Community grieves after six die in Plymouth shooting

The process of getting a firearm is strict due to UK law.

Gun legislation in Britain is considered among the strictest in the world. Police must issue a certificate for someone to possess, buy or acquire a firearm or shotgun, the gov.uk site explains.

A certificate is also needed to buy ammunition.

Read more: Jake Davison: Plymouth gunman posted YouTube videos before shootings

An application form must be completed and police need to be supplied with a passport photo.

For those seeking to get a shotgun licence, one referee is needed, while two are required for a firearm certificate. A fee must also be paid.

Crucially, applicants must prove to the chief police officer that they are allowed to have a firearms licence and pose no danger to public safety.

Medical information should also be considered, with relevant conditions including depression or anxiety, acute stress reaction, psychotic illness, personality disorder or a relevant neurological condition, among others.

Additional checks may also be carried out if necessary. This can include getting information from open source social media.

Shortly after Davison's name emerged, it was found that he had made references to "incel" (involuntary celibate) culture – which has been linked to acts of violence in the US. Police have not yet established a motive.

Davison also referred to difficulties with meeting women, struggling to lose weight and how life was "never… the same again" after injuring his ankle at work in an 11 minute video posted online before the shooting.

He said "I just don't have any willpower to do anything anymore", adding he was "beaten down and defeated by f****** life".

Home Office figures say 565,000 people held a firearm or shotgun certificate as of March 31, while the National Crime Agency has said the UK has some of the lowest levels of gun crime in the world.

Pistols, revolvers and shotguns are the most frequently used illegally in the UK and most shootings are carried out by gangs involved in robbery and drugs rings, with the victims usually known to police.

A total of 30 homicide victims in England and Wales in the year to March 2020 were killed by shooting, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

With the identities of those dead and injured yet to be confirmed, Devon and Cornwall Police have set up a phone line for those worried about their loved ones.

You can contact the casualty bureau on 01752 487880