Some police firearms departments are already writing automatically to GPs to inform them about the granting of a firearm or shotgun certificate, despite there being limited guidance for GPs about how they should deal with the letter, Shooting Times has learned.
Last year an agreement was made between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the British Medical Association (BMA) that these notifications would take place after a certificate was issued in all cases.
It was felt that this addition to the licensing process would give GPs the opportunity to voice any concerns they might have, and, if necessary, allow the police to revoke the certificate.
BASC?s senior firearms officer Mike Eveleigh said: ?It?s not every police force that is doing it but many are, including Hampshire and Sussex. So far this year we have had 143 complaints about it, so we are aware that our members are worried.?
?They are saying they would not go to their GP if they were suffering from some form of depression or stress, knowing that if they did, the GP would tell the police and their certificate could be revoked. That?s the opposite of the effect intended.?
Mike Eveleigh has instigated talks on the subject between BASC, the BMA and ACPO to ensure that shooters? voices are heard.
However, many shooters are fearful that ACPO and the BMA could come to a private agreement, which is then signed off by the Government without consulting anyone with an expert knowledge of the sport.
These concerns were reinforced by the Government?s recent response to the Home Affairs Committee?s report on firearms control, which did not formally recognise the shooting community?s place at the table in future discussions.
Countryside Alliance (CA) shooting campaigns manager David Taylor said that his organisation was not necessarily against increased involvement by GPs in the licensing process, but agreed that the involvement of shooters in any debate was vital.
He said: ?Greater involvement of the medical profession in the licensing process has been under discussion for several months, and the agreement between ACPO and the BMA is part of an evolving process.?
?The shooting associations have been part of that process to date, but it is very important that the Government now recognises explicitly that shooters, as principal stakeholders, should be party to the discussions.?
?The shooting community must be satisfied that any agreement that may be reached on this matter is fair and reasonable. If it is not, then the CA will oppose it.?