A recent letter from a reader whose shooting days look like disappearing ... Expert David Frost offers some advice
Q: I recently reapplied for a shotgun certificate but have been turned down.The police have refused to renew my shotgun certificate on the grounds that I pose a threat to public safety or the peace, citing my domestic circumstances. The firearms officer arrived at my house accompanied by a policeman dressed in a flak jacket with all the accessories, which I found quite intimidating.
After eight weeks they returned to my house and informed me that I would have to get rid of my guns immediately. So I went to a gun dealer I know. I asked the policeman whether I should appeal against the shotgun certificate renewal refusal but he said there was no point in appealing as it would cost a lot of money and I would lose in any case.
The dealer has sold one of the guns and so I am using the money to pay a local solicitor for advice. Have you anything to add?
Shotgun certificate renewal refusal
A: Let’s look at this in detail as you bring up several points.
First off, it doesn’t appear that you have been well treated by the police. Sending a policeman along to accompany the firearms officer looks like intimidation to me.
In any case, it’s not up to the police to decide whether an appeal will be successful, it’s up to the court. In addition, the letter you were sent doesn’t give many details of why your certificate was refused. Accusing somebody who has held a certificate for many years of being a threat to public safety or the peace is a serious and possibly defamatory act.
What should have happened is that the licensing manager should have explained the reason for your certificate being refused to you. This isn’t a legal requirement but it is good practice.
I would suggest that you now ask for a face-to-face meeting with the firearms officer and a full explanation of what has happened to your shotgun certificate. Of course, this could be turned down but if you were to go to court it would not show the police in a good light.
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It is a pity that you allowed your British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) membership to lapse last year. It’s always important for shooters to belong to one of the fieldsports organisations, such as BASC, GWCT, Countryside Alliance or National Gamekeepers Organisation.
One of the benefits of belonging is that you get experienced, and specialist legal advice from experts when you need it. Your local solicitor is unlikely to have such a base of knowledge. Poor advice can have longterm consequences.
I have given you the name of a solicitor who specialises in firearms law and who will be able to give you good advice based on wide experience. Good luck.