The Democratic Party has called for changes to the draft Firearms Control Bill following a Sunday newspaper expose which claimed firearm competency certificates were being sold to applicants without testing or training them.

DP Safety and Security spokesman Graham McIntosh said the Sunday Times report was a clear indication of the serious problems that lay ahead for the new Firearms Control Bill.

The article claimed the newspaper's journalists had bought 11 firearm competency certificates, without having fired a single shot or having done any training.

The certificate should have been issued after at least 20 hours of training and testing.

MacIntosh said the implementation of the draft legislation depended on the issuing of competency certificates, which firearm owners had to renew every two years.

He said the administrative structure to prevent similar fraudulent activities would be enormous, both in terms of personnel and financial cost, especially if the certificates had to be issued every two years.

The DP felt that certain categories of owners, like professional hunters should only be tested every five years.

"The investigative journalists on the Sunday Times are to be congratulated because they have demonstrated that passing a law is one thing, but making it effective in dealing with the endless ingenuity of human beings is entirely another issue," he said.

One the goals in the government's Firearms Control Bill is to improve the control of legal gun ownership and to use competency certificates as a prerequisite to the issuing of gun licenses. - Sapa