BASC is welcoming the clarity to be brought by changes to firearm and shotgun application forms at the end of next month.

The Home Office has announced that the new shotgun licence forms will ask whether an applicant has ever been diagnosed or treated for a relevant medical condition to remove ambiguity around the current wording.

The new forms – which will apply in England, Scotland and Wales – come into effect from 31st December, although old forms will be valid for the first eight weeks of the New Year.

Online applications ahead

BASC also understands that other minor amendments will clear the way for an eventual move to online applications.

BASC firearms officer Mike Eveleigh said: “The loose wording on the old form caused problems by simply asking if an applicant was suffering from any prescribed illness. BASC is pleased the Home Office will bring greater clarity to the question.

“The old wording was an anomaly which caused problems for police licensing departments and for members. We have been pushing for improvements to the forms for many years.

“While it won’t be obvious on the forms, there are also some legal changes in the background which we understand will bring closer the day when applications will be available online.

“If it simplifies and speeds up the application system, then it will be a welcome improvement. Many functions are dealt with online now and the public has come to expect this level of service.

“We will work with police and the Home Office to ensure that nobody is disadvantaged by the online process.”

Past problems with shotgun licence forms

BASC chairman Peter Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms law, said: “BASC is aware that applicants have had problems in the past simply because the non-specific wording in some of the questions on the forms was open to interpretation.

“To complete the forms incorrectly can lead to prosecution, so it is pleasing to see the Home Office has now imported this clarity.

“We are also hopeful that online licensing, when it is introduced in England and Wales, will generally improve the licensing process. However, BASC will work to ensure that those of our members who can’t access the online system for whatever reason will still have access to the paper system.”