Queries and complaints about firearms licensing are one of our top subjects for readers. Have your say in our poll here. We'll publish the results of our findings in the next few weeks.

Everbody who owns a gun is being affected by shotgun and firearms licensing issues – whether they are new to shooting or a seasoned Gun.

When you’ve just taken up shooting, you’ll apply for your shotgun certificate and wait for it to arrive. Depending on where you live, you can wait and wait. It could be as little as three weeks if you live in the City of London or as long as five months if you live in Essex. It really is a postcode lottery.

If you’re an experienced shooter, then you’ll have already gone through the rigours of obtaining your certificate. However, don’t fall into the trap of forgetting to renew it before it expires. Some police forces will send you a reminder, others won’t. A shooting MP was recently caught out by this and neglected to renew his certificate despite being sent a reminder. In due course it did expire and as a result he had to surrender his guns to the local constabulary  – he then professed himself appalled at the amount of time it would take to get his new paperwork through.

GP involvement

Then there is the question of GP’s charging for completing necessary paperwork. In a change to the law in 2016, GPs were instructed to place an ‘encoded marker’ on firearm and shotgun certificate holder records. This was to remind the GP that the patient used guns and to alert them to the need to inform the police if the patient’s mental health raised concerns about their fitness to possess firearms.

There have also been reports of some GPs refusing to fill in forms, due to their personal beliefs about fieldsports. Back in 2016 The British Medical Association (BMA) advised GPs not to provide shooters’ medical information to the police without a fee and suggested that it was acceptable to withhold the service on ethical grounds.

This advice has now been updated and the BMA has advised GP’s that they ‘must engage in the process of firearms licensing when requested to do so’. If they refuse to deal with firearms licensing requests because of conscientious objection they should help patients find another doctor.

Shotgun and firearms licensing is certainly a knotty subject – take our poll and have your say. We’ll be publishing the results in the next few weeks.