The Home Office has announced changes to firearm and shotgun application forms at the end of December 2017, which should speed up the service and pave the way for online licensing.
New application forms for shotgun certificates and firearms licences will ask whether an applicant has ever been diagnosed or treated for a relevant medical condition, removing ambiguity around the current wording. The changes will apply in England, Scotland and Wales and come into effect on 31 December 2017, though old forms will remain valid for the first eight weeks of 2018.
BASC firearms officer Mike Eveleigh said: “The loose wording on the old form caused problems by simply asking if an applicant was suffering from any prescribed illness. BASC is pleased that the Home Office will bring greater clarity to the question.
“The old wording was an anomaly that caused problems for police licensing departments and for members. We have been pushing for improvements to the forms for many years.”
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Mr Eveleigh also explained that other minor amendments on the forms will make a move to online applications possible. “While it won’t be obvious on the forms, there are also some legal changes in the background which we understand will bring closer the day when applications will be available online,” he said.
“If it simplifies and speeds up the application system, it will be a welcome improvement. Many functions are dealt with online now and the public has come to expect this level of service. We will work with police and the Home Office to ensure that nobody is disadvantaged by the online process.”
BASC chairman Peter Glenser commented: “BASC is aware that applicants have had problems in the past simply because the non-specific wording in some of the questions on the forms was open to interpretation. To complete the forms incorrectly can lead to prosecution, so it is pleasing to see the Home Office has now imported this clarity.
“We are also hopeful that online licensing, when it is introduced in England and Wales, will generally improve the licensing process. However, BASC will work to ensure that those of our members who can’t access the online system for whatever reason will still have access to the paper system.”