Months after imposing a near-total ban on handguns, Britain tightened checks Tuesday on those applying for firearms licenses.

Police now have the right to seek the full medical history of all applicants, including details of any mental health problems. Every applicant will have to give the names of two people who have known them for at least two years and who support their application.Britain adopted some of the world's toughest gun laws after disturbed loner Thomas Hamilton walked into a school in Dunblane, Scotland, in March 1996 and opened fire with four legally owned handguns.

Hamilton, who belonged to a local gun club, killed 16 pupils and their teacher before taking his own life.

Weapons over .22 caliber were banned last year in Britain and a ban on weapons of .22 caliber and below took effect in March.

Exceptions to the ban include pistols of antique and historical interest, starting pistols and shot pistols with very small caliber charges that are used against rats, mice and other pests.

Home Office spokesman Alun Michael said the new rules will give police enough information to make an informed judgment on whether an applicant was suitable to hold a firearm license.

"Public safety remains our No. 1 priority where firearms licensing is concerned," he said.