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Action needed on firearms licensing

A major review of firearms licensing is taking place, but we only have until 23 August to respond. BASC's Conor O'Gorman looks at the proposals

The Home Office has launched a consultation on proposals that could impact ownership of shotguns and rifles in England, Wales and Scotland for decades to come. The good news is that recommendations to merge shotgun and firearms licensing conditions were dropped prior to publication of the consultation. This was due to lobbying by BASC and others, on the grounds that the proposals were neither evidence-led nor proportionate.

Also, an immediate allocation of £500,000 has been made available to fund police firearms licensing personnel training, and for this training to become mandatory for all police firearms licensing teams. However, though the consultation contains some positive proposals there are also many negative ones that we think should definitely be opposed.

Certificate length

The consultation considers whether the valid length of shotgun and firearm certificates should drop to three years, stay the same, or be extended beyond five years. BASC is encouraging people to support the ‘more than five years’ option and we continue to argue for 10-year certificates.

Medical involvement in firearms licensing

There are several proposals relating to GPs, digital markers and mental health. We think GPs should be required to place a digital marker on a certificate holder’s medical record. Having that in place universally supports the argument for 10-year certificates. In any case GPs have a moral duty to participate and if they are unwilling to do so voluntarily they should be compelled. This duplicates the system that applies to medical conditions and driving.

With that in mind, we are opposed to the proposal that interim medical checks should be made on licensed firearms holders. The continuous monitoring of certificate holders by means of a marker on medical records would provide a better safeguard for public safety than interim medical checks.

We support the proposal that the digital marker for use by GPs on the medical records of licensed firearms holders should be visible to other health professionals. The marker needs to be visible to any health professional who needs to see a patient’s medical records. That said, this must be conducted on a ‘need to see’ basis so as not to prejudice a certificate holder’s security by advertising that firearms are stored at a particular location.

We think there should be more mental health advice and support for licensed firearms holders. Certificate holders must be confident that they can seek help for mental health problems without automatically being deprived of their certificates. BASC assisted with the excellent Police Scotland leaflet on the subject and would welcome its extension elsewhere in the UK.

We do not agree with the proposal that neurodevelopmental disorders should be added to the list of relevant medical conditions in the statutory guidance. These conditions cover a spectrum of severity and each case should be treated on its merits.

Police powers of entry and seizure

We are opposed to a proposed new police power of entry and immediate seizure of firearms, shotguns and ammunition when certificate holders are uncooperative with the police. The police already have adequate powers and simply because a person is licensed to possess firearms should not deprive them of basic civil liberties.


We don’t think that it’s necessary to have two referees for shotgun certificate applications. One is sufficient. There is also no need to change the criteria for being a referee and we are against the proposal that referees need to ‘be a person of standing in the community’ and having one of a list of occupations deemed suitable.

Have your say in five minutes

Space prevents me from covering everything proposed in the consultation. However, there is much more detail on the BASC website to help you quickly and easily complete an online questionnaire. It should take less than five minutes to do so.

Over 40,000 people responded to the Wales gamebird releasing consultation. Can we exceed 100,000 responses on firearms licensing in Great Britain?

Use the QR code in this article to get straight to the business of replying to the consultation.