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BASC blames police for gun ownership decline

Latest figures from the Home Office show the number of firearm and shotgun licences has fallen by almost 10% over the past year

middle aged men with shotguns

Home Office figures shown an 8% decline in the number of firearm licences being issued in 2021/22 on the previous 12 months

The number of firearm and shotgun certificate holders in England has dropped by 8% in a single year – which BASC has blamed on failures in the licensing process. (Read how to get a shotgun certificate.)

The annual Home Office summary of licences held, issued and revoked showed there were 539,212 people in England and Wales who held a firearm and/or a shotgun certificate in 2021/22. This was a decrease of nearly 50,000 from the year before.

BASC responded with some frustration, blaming the decline on inefficiency and delay in police firearms licensing teams. Martin Parker, BASC’s head of firearms, said: “On the ground we are hearing time and time again about individuals postponing their application because they have heard about the delays. One member in the Devon and Cornwall constituency was told of a two and a half year wait for a certificate.

“These delays are impacting our grassroots and the next generation of shooters. As well as firearms being necessary for wildlife and pest management, shooting is also an Olympic and Commonwealth sporting discipline,” he pointed out.  “And  this restriction on new athletes coming into the sport is becoming increasingly damaging.”

The numbers also showed a steep rise in revocations compared to last year. The data showed that 385 firearms certificates that were revoked in 2021/22, a 26% increase compared with the previous year and that 1,075 shotgun certificates were revoked, a 9% increase on revocations in the previous year.

There has been much speculation in the shooting community about a spike in revocations following the Plymouth shootings in August 2021. However the number of revocations always varies significantly from year to year and similar changes have been noted in the past.

One force did stand out for its increase in revocations, Devon and Cornwall Police more than doubled the number of certificates it revoked, with the number of licences cancelled jumping from 59 in 2020/21 to 131 in 2021/22.