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The British Medical Association (BMA) and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have revealed that they are currently discussing ways doctors can be made aware of patients who own firearms.

The discussions were prompted after Mid and North Shropshire coroner, John Ellery, recommended a closer link between the medical profession and firearms enquiry officers.

Mr Ellery recently conducted the inquest into the deaths of Christopher Foster, his wife Jill and their daughter Kirstie, in Shropshire.

Last August, Mr Foster shot his family before setting fire to their home in Maesbrook, near Oswestry, and shooting himself with a legally held .22 rifle.

It emerged at the inquest that Mr Foster had been suffering from depression and had mentioned suicidal thoughts to his GP.

A BMA spokesman explained the proposal to Shooting Times magazine: “Throughout 2009, the BMA has been involved in discussions with ACPO on the possibility of GPs placing electronic tags in medical records to indicate that the patient either held a firearms or shotgun licence or had applied for one.”

He added: “Updated ethical guidance from the BMA reflects our view that such a system can be appropriate, provided it is used as part of the ordinary care given to a patient. It can, for example, be a useful aide-memoire, to remind doctors that the patient has access to a firearm. Such a system should not, however, imply that GPs take on particular obligations to monitor or oversee the mental health of individuals holding firearms licences.”

Shooting organisations have dismissed the proposal.

BASC’s Bill Harriman, said the idea is a gross overreaction, given that there are so few incidents with lawfully owned firearms.

“I think the shooting community will be angered by this proposal, especially as the BMA has not discussed the concept with us.”

He said the shooting community is very wary of more red tape, and will see this as yet another infringement of its civil liberties. Mr Harriman also pointed out that someone might not seek help for depression or a related illness if they feared it might result in the loss of their certificate.

“The deaths of Christopher Foster, his wife and daughter are tragic, but these ill-considered proposals will not prevent similar incidents in the future,” he concluded.

A spokesman for ACPO sought to reassure concerned shooters: “ACPO and the BMA have been exploring a number of options as to how information can be shared without breaching patient confidentiality and yet ensuring public safety. Work has been progressing well and draft guidance is in the process of being prepared for consideration.”

The BMA is expected to discuss the issue further at a meeting in late September.

Let us know what you think about this!

  • Mike Hemingway

    All the above comments are relevant and unfortunately, they are completely true. If you do a small amount of internet research, you will discover that a small and vociferous number of Anti-everything to do with field sports people are applying pressure to the Government to enforce additional restrictions on privately owned firearms for any reason whatsoever.
    They are aware that an outright ban is unlikely to gain Government support, so the new tactic they employ is “Salami methods”. If you don’t know what this is–have a look at “Yes Minister”
    It is unfortunate that a lot of these people have the ear of politicians, and they will constantly chip away at them, until another restriction is added, normally ineffective, but a nuisance to the legal sportsman who conducts himself responsibly.
    It would be a welcome development if the Hunting Associations of all the European countries showed some sense and supported each other, so that should one become threatened, additional weight could be bought to bear on the relevant Government by all of them. Wishful thinking, I think.

  • Dave Benson

    Clearly this is a sledgehammer to crack a nut, as stated in the article there are very few incidents with legally owned firearms. Yet we see many incidents that are not reported in the press is this because the police and government don’t want the public to know how they are failing to stop illegally held guns being involved in crime.

  • Dr Rob Bate

    As a practising Dental Surgeon, largely in the NHS, I am daily battered and harassed by overwhelming form filling, box-ticking and pointless red tape. After thirty years of General Practice, postgraduate qualifications and considerable Hospital experience in Maxillofacial surgery, I have to, for example, write a detailed self-critique justifying why I am not racist/sexist etc (er, it’s illegal, but there we go) and have to provide such mindless bull**** as “mission statements” and other meaningless drivel.This Government is absolutely obsessed with registration, listing,quantifying and recording every single detail of every single citizen, unless one takes the other option of operating outside the law, in which case the system fails!
    The level of State control and obsession with collecting data is a worrying development. The Oklahoma bombing was a “home-grown” attack by white Americans who despised Government control.
    In this country we saw how a violent psychopath, Raoul Moat, attracted a certain sympathy. It is easy to dismiss this as criminals supporting their own, but there are some serious underlying issues, how many of us watching as the news unfolded felt vaguely uneasy as we saw a huge Police army, bristling with military weaponry swaggering about. And how many felt at least a tiny smirk as Moat walked down the High street under their noses! I am a white, middle class professional, a bloody dentist for God’s sake, the epitome of law-abiding Middle England and I feel threatened, not by the Daily Mail’s criminal underclass but by the Government and , sadly, the Police. This is an appalling state of affairs.

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  • Geoff Miller

    Thank God I now live in France. You take a test to get a hunting licence (to make sure you understand safety and quarry species etc) and only have to have a doctors note to apply for the licence. For clays/targets its even easier – Drs note, proof of address and identity and you club will issue a licence. In either case – no police involvement whatsoever. My shooting licence covers me for as many shotguns and rifles as I like.

    I am very worried that you are now in a police state – too much personal information is in the hands of the authorities.

    In France they have even stopped collecting official stats on shooting accidents – the numbers are statistically insignificant.

    If you want to kill yourself you dont need a gun. What do they plan – padded cells and straight jackets for the entire British population?

    PS They have just brought in a law to curb animal rights terrorists. Hunting is a legal activity and anyone interfering with a legal activity is subject to the law with fines and loss of “proviledges” e.g losss of driving licence.

    Now thats simple – but too simple for the idiots running the UK.

  • T Thompson

    As a retired police officer I see this is another infingement of peoples civil liberties, that is just one of a large number brought about by a preposterous government and police forces who have no idea of a free society or how to deal with the law abiding majority of people.
    One in a million people who have legally held weapons loose their sanity and commit a crime, the same applies to all manner of other crimes but that is life we cannot prevent every single thing that can go wrong. And lets be truthful and face a fact of life in my 30yrs experience if someone looses their senses and I have seen the result of many they don’t need a firearm to kill or maim they grab the nearest thing they see as a weapon and commit the crime or as a last resort use their hands to strangle someone, are we going to ban hands, lumps of wood, wire flexes!
    Why do they not ask for everyone who takes illegal drugs to be flagged up on the computers that could be shared by Doctors and Police forces.
    It strikes me and many others in this country that the biggest part of gun crimes murders/assaults etc are committed by people either taking and/or dealing illegal drugs and having illegal weapons.
    I WOULD DARE TO SAY 99.99% OF GUN MURDERS AND CRIMES ARE COMMITTED BY THESE TYPE OF PEOPLE.
    Again let’s take the soft option and not tackle the real issue people in authority !!! Government, Police and Doctors…
    Or could it be they cannot control this drugs issue and try to put the blame somewhere else where they can legislate.
    THERE ARE MORE GUN CRIMES NOW THAN EVER…. EVEN SINCE THEY BANNED THE LEGAL POSSESSION OF HANDGUNS, have they not learned anything, sadly I think not.

  • Winstan Broadhurst

    Will the BMA and ACPO institute the same restrictions to people applying for motor vehicle licences. I am sure that unfortunatly more people are killed and seriously injured on the roads of this country due to drink,drugs and mental problems than to any legal shooting activities.It is very sad when anyone is involved in death or injury,but as usual the police and the media do tend to jump on tragic situations and use these to push kneejerk laws into force .

  • Vytenis Zinkus

    Gross over reaction as usual. Needs to be nipped in the bud.