The BBC has an interesting article about the history of British firearm laws.
I liked this quote
“The concept of controls for criminal purposes is a very 20th Century phenomenon” – Mark Murray-Flutter Royal Armouries
The moral opposition to firearms is something new and in my experience most people do not realize this.
In 1870 a licence was introduced for anyone who wanted to carry a gun outside their home. But there were no restrictions on keeping a firearm indoors.
Mild restrictions came into force with the 1903 Pistols Act which denied ownership to anyone who was “drunken or insane”. It also required a licence for firearms with a barrel shorter than nine inches – what we nowadays refer to as handguns.
Prior to World War I there were a quarter of a million licensed firearms in private hands across the country.
Hat Tip: Saysuncle.com