The 22-year-old loner killed five people – including his mother – in the Keyham area of the city on Thursday evening before turning the gun on himself. It has since emerged that he legally held the shotgun – which was returned to him just weeks before he committed the UK’s worst mass shooting spree in more than a decade.
Weapons expert Mike Yardley explained that once a person has been awarded a shotgun certificate the “medical monitoring” of their wellbeing falls largely on their GP.
This Home Office-led system was introduced in 2016 which was designed to make it easier for doctors to flag up a medical condition that may affect someone’s suitability to possess firearms.
Under the system, GPs were asked to place a “firearm reminder” code in the records of all patients who have a gun and inform police whether they were at risk of developing a mental health issue.
The British Medical Association (BMA) GP Committee later advised GPs to reject all requests from the police due to a lack of funding.
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“Your medical notes are annotated to say you are a firearms certificate holder.
“A lot disapproved of the system when it came in. A lot of the GPs would say they are not responsible for it.
“It’s an area of great contention.
“I think the solution is really simple – you need to regularly talk to people.
“The police need to come and talk to you face-to-face.”
How much of this kind of interviewing takes place “depends on the police force”, he said.
He added: “Some are not doing as much face-to-face interviewing as they used to and I think that is a mistake.
“It is an essential part of licencing in my opinion.”
Mr Yardley also pointed out that if a gun holder’s mental health did deteriorate but they did not go to their GP they would be unaware of the situation.
This is why he believes the onus should fall on “very experienced” firearms enquiry officers to speak to the holder face-to-face “at a minimum” of every five years.
He added: “This was a very disturbed young man who clearly had major issues. He was a member of this bizarre misogynistic online subculture which also appears to be alt-right.
“It’s an extraordinary situation and obviously there’s been a failure somewhere because this man was traumatised and unstable.
“If there had been sufficient scrutiny of him you would have hoped that someone would have picked up on this.
“(But) he’s slipped through the net.”
Davison’s first victim was his mother Maxine Davison, 51, who was shot and killed at her home on Biddick Drive, Plymouth, on Thursday evening.
Davison went on to kill three-year-old Sophie Martyn, her father Lee Martyn, 43, Stephen Washington and Kate Shepherd.
His attack lasted about six minutes before he turned the gun on himself.
In online videos, Davison spoke of being “beaten down” and “defeated by life”.
Devon and Cornwall Police have confirmed that the Independent Police Complaints Commission are investigating how Davison was allowed to have and keep his shotgun licence.