An inquest into the Keyham shootings has heard how gunman Jake Davison should have been considered high risk and his application for a shotgun licence reviewed by the head of firearms department.
The jury was also told Devon and Cornwall Police has refused fewer than three per cent of new shotgun licences over the past five years, consistently lower than the national average.
The Plymouth mass shooting left six people dead in August 2021. Davison, 22, killed his mother Maxine, 51, after a row and then shot dead four others in a 12-minute attack.
Three-year-old Sophie Martyn, her father, Lee, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66, died on the evening of August 12 2021 in the Keyham area of the city.
Apprentice crane operator Davison then turned the pump-action shotgun on himself before armed police reached him.Figures provided to the inquest today (23 January) revealed the force receives thousands of applications for weapons certificates every year.
Officers can refuse or revoke someone's licence if they believe them to be 'of unsound mind' or 'a danger to public safety or the peace'.
In December 2020, Davison's pump action shotgun and certificate were confiscated by police following an allegation of assault. They were returned to him in July 2021, just weeks before the shootings.
Chief superintendent Roy Linden, giving evidence on Monday, admitted that by only refusing a small fraction of applications, the force's decision making was 'falling below the standard expected'.
In 2016/17, the year in which Plymouth gunman Jake Davison first requested a shotgun licence, Devon and Cornwall's firearms licensing department (FLD) processed around 6,000 applications.
Approximately 1,000 of those were new requests and 5,000 were renewals.
The court heard that just 1.7 per cent of new applications in the region that year were refused, compared to a national average of 2.5 per cent.
Dominic Adamson KC, representing the families of those who died in Keyham, asked Chief Supt Linden: 'If you don't approach gun licensing with absolute rigour, then as night follows day, there's going to be another tragedy?'The officer replied: 'I agree completely...the qualitative decision making was below the standard to be expected too frequently.'Chief Supt Linden agreed with Mr Adamson's assertion that 'systems were not being implemented and followed on a regular basis, over a long period of time'.
The inquest continues.