What's in store if you tick one of the 'yes' boxes?

All gun owners know that when we renew or apply for a shotgun or firearm certificate we must answer questions about our health. As the application form 201 states: “Medical fitness is one of the factors police must consider when assessing a person’s suitability.”

The police need to be notified of relevant medical conditions, namely:

  • Acute Stress Reaction or an acute reaction to the stress caused by a trauma
  • Suicidal thoughts or self harm
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Dementia
  • Mania, bipolar disorder or a psychotic illness
  • A personality disorder
  • A neurological condition: for example, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases, or epilepsy
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Any other mental or physical condition which might affect your safe possession of a firearm or shotgun

Detail from the shotgun and firearms certificate application form

GP permission

We also have to give police permission to contact our GP if they feel it necessary.

So what happens if we tick one of the ‘yes’ boxes?

Police advice

To find out I spoke to licensing managers Clive Williams of West Mercia, Dave Coutts from North Yorkshire, Peter Taylor of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and Ch. Supt Ann Wakefield of Hampshire.

Ms Wakefield’s advice is to always mention an illness rather than leave it off the form. In her opinion the issue is not so much the illness as the effect it has on a person and the way they might handle a gun.

Her constabulary’s view is that those who actively seek help to manage their condition should be supported.

And Dave Coutts says that if a disease is likely to prove terminal it helps to know as it makes it easier to deal with the disposal of guns when the owner dies.

  • All agree that ticking a ‘yes’ box WILL lead to a letter being written to the GP seeking more information.
  • If the doctor’s report shows the applicant is taking the correct medication and that there are no serious issues then a certificate would be granted or renewed.
  • Cases of doubt are referred to the force medical officer for further advice. If a medical issue has been declared it is followed up, but how this happens varies.
in field with gundogs

Beating the black dog

You may remember me, or rather you may dimly recall the monthly pieces that I wrote for Shooting Times, about fishing (occasionally) and shooting…

What you can do to help yourself

  • Remember that the aim of licensing departments is to manage a certificate in the interests of the holder.
  • Revocation or refusal is not automatic and monitoring is preferred.
  • All are more concerned by an applicant who doesn’t recognise a problem than someone who does.
  • Depression is not an automatic bar to getting a certificate. Clive explained that people may not be suffering clinical depression but often go to a GP for anti-depressants if they’re feeling a little down. Distinguishing between the two can be difficult but Clive says GP reports are usually quite clear on the matter.
  • One of the things Clive looks for, especially with diabetes, is that the applicant has the self discipline needed to follow prescribed treatment to control the condition.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders. Otherwise you are likely to face questions about your suitability to hold a shotgun/firearms certificate.