Coroner welcomes new rules on guns

PUBLISHED: 13:00 14 October 2011

Coroner William Armstrong

Coroner William Armstrong


A coroner has welcomed a new procedure which will see GPs notified of patients applying for, or renewing, firearms licences.

His comments came during an inquest into the death of a man who shot himself.

Mark Andrew French, 48, died at his family home in South Wootton, near King’s Lynn, on May 27.

The father-of-two had suffered from depression since July 2008 and had made two threats to kill himself before he died.

Speaking at yesterday’s inquest, coroner William Armstrong made reference to the procedure, agreed by the British Medical Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers, on guidance for GPs over shotgun certificate applications.

He added: “It is a matter of concern that a man with depression was allowed to keep a shotgun.

“I have raised concerns with the home secretary in the past about people with mental health problems having a shotgun in their possession and I am pleased there is now a new procedure in place that when people are granted shotgun certificates, their GPs will be informed.

“Hopefully this new procedure will help reduce the risk of these tragedies happening in the future.”

Mr French, who was granted a shotgun licence in 2006, suffered from depression after his building contracting firm began to collapse.

Mr French first threatened to kill himself in a text to his wife just before Christmas last year. He then made another suicide threat after his wife suggested that they change their lottery numbers when Mr French turned 49 and he said: “That depends if I am still here”.

The following morning, Mrs French received a text from her husband which read: “I will always love you”.

A note was also found in Mr French’s office which read: “To all my family and friends, I can’t take it any more. Please try and forgive me”. He was later found in the garage of his home with chest injuries and a shotgun laying nearby. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of suicide.

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