After talks between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the British Medical Association (BMA), GPs have agreed to breach their duty of confidentiality to gun-owning patients. Doctors have agreed to tell the police if they believe that a gun-owner’s mental health has deteriorated to the extent that they have become a danger to themselves or the public. In a statement, the BMA said: “Where doctors know that a patient has a firearm and, in their view, presents a risk of harm to themselves or others this information can be disclosed without consent.”

In another controversial move, all medical records of patients holding firearms licences could be “flagged” as part of the agreement. The BMA indicated that it did not want doctors to be made responsible for revoking firearms certificates. However, firearms guidance advises police to revoke a licence if a doctor declares the holder unsafe.

BASC’s Simon Clarke expressed concern that the agreement would lead to gun owners with a record of any mental health problem having their firearms certificate withdrawn. He said: “If it became a default position that any mental health issue causes your licence to be revoked, that would be a potential danger.” He went on to link the announcement with the recent killings by Derrick Bird, saying: “The issue of flagging medical records has become more prominent after the Cumbria murders.”

The rest of this article appears in 23rd June issue of Shooting Times.

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