Nationwide introduction of the new National Firearms Licensing System (NFLS), following a decade of delays since it was first given the green light, now appears to be the cause of serious hold-ups in certificate issues and renewals for shotgun and rifle users in different parts of the UK.

The situation has led to many reports of gun owners being left uncertified. In a letter sent out earlier this year to certificate holders in one force area, Hertfordshire, the firearms licensing manager, Peter Taylor, acknowledged that the NFLS rollout was the cause of delays. He wrote: Inevitably there will be disruption to our normal processes while data is transferred and training in the new system is provided to the firearms licensing staff. This will cause delays in processing applications.

The creation of the NFLS was prompted by the Dunblane shootings in 1996 and Lord Cullen?s subsequent public inquiry. The database, which holds records on all legitimate firearms owners in the UK, has been dogged by delays. A pilot programme was completed in June 2006, in Lancashire and the Metropolitan Police Force areas, and national rollout was completed in March. However, linking the database to the police national computer ? a key aspect of the project ? has still not been completed.

Some forces are issuing temporary permits, but that?s not the case for all force areas. A lot of forces are recommending that you leave your guns locked up and don?t use them until your renewal is issued. Our advice is that you should try to seek a Section 7 temporary permit, but the police aren?t obliged to issue them. If they refuse, you can try to make a complaint to the chief constable or the professional standards section within the police force. The key is to send your paperwork in as fast as possible ? you should be receiving the service you pay for, but that?s much more likely if you keep your side of the bargain.