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CNN  — 

The United Kingdom is famous for its tight firearm laws and low rates of gun-related violence.

Its measures on owning guns are so strict, the shooting death of parliament member Jo Cox on Thursday left the nation stunned.

Those who want to own firearms go through an onerous process that includes an application through the local police department, a cover letter, references and in some cases, doctor visits.

Unlike the United States, which has an estimated 101 guns per 100 people, the UK only has 6.7 firearms per 100 people, according to Small Arms Survey.

The numbers of guns in both nations are reflected in their crime rates.

In the United Kingdom, only 7% of homicides are linked to firearms. On the contrary, 59% of killings in the United States are a result of firearms, according to the United Nations.

Why are UK gun laws stricter?

England’s tough gun laws are a result of the Firearms Act of 1920, which allows local officials to say no to licenses at their own discretion. It marked the beginning of the end for easy access to firearms, and made it nearly impossible to obtain one without a compelling reason.

In addition to the act, the Dunblane school massacre that left 17 people dead in 1996 led to more bans on private gun ownership.

Who authorizes weapons?

Depends on what kind.

Applications for basic firearms are submitted to the local police. In cases of advanced weapons, applicants submit their requests to carry weapons to the Home Office, the government agency that oversees policing and domestic security, among others.

“Gun ownership is a privilege, not a right,” the Home Office says in its guidance.

How do you apply for a gun license?

The process is more rigorous than a job application.

Applicants must include a cover letter explaining the reason why they need a gun. Business owners must not only submit an application, they must include a business plan and evidence of the business such as invoices and bills, the Home Office says.

Applicants must also submit references from people who are not related to them.

Before a license is issued, authorities conduct interviews, review criminal records and references from friends, and visit the applicant’s home. One must also pass a psychological check and in some cases, a family doctor may be consulted.

Are most applicants approved?


UK officials turn down applicants for various reasons. For example, anyone who has been in prison for over three years cannot own a weapon, the Home Office says.

“Permission to possess or to purchase or acquire a firearm will be granted to an individual who is assessed by the licensing authority, the police, as not posing a threat to public safety and having good reason to own the firearm,” the Home Office says.

Can the license be revoked?


Once a firearm is approved, one has to go through a series of measures to keep it, including ensuring it is stored in a locked place, CNN’s Nic Robertson said from London. Only the approved owner is required to know its location.

“Even your spouse is not allowed to know how to get to the weapon, where the weapon is … that’s how tight the control is,” Robertson said.

If an inspector goes to a gun owner’s home and the spouse happens to know where the weapon is, the license is revoked, he said.

Licenses can also be revoked in cases involving domestic abuse – where the applicant is either the victim or the perpetrator.

CNN’s Katie Sammer contributed to this report