BASC is alerting members to changes in the way the police and GPs in England and Wales share information for the issue of firearm and shotgun certificates.
With immediate effect, the police will contact a GP to request medical information as soon as an application is received rather than once a certificate has been issued.
But the UK’s leading shooting organisation has reiterated its advice to members not to pay fees requested by GPs for responding to this initial police contact.
Such fees should only become payable by the applicant if police subsequently request further medical information as a result of the applicant declaring a relevant medical condition or if the GP indicates they have concerns relating to a relevant medical condition.
In addition to this change, the police have removed the pro-forma which GPs were requested to complete before returning to them.
Paul Dale, a member of BASC’s firearms team who has led on this issue for the association, said: “These welcome changes to the arrangements should improve the service being offered to applicants.
“It has now been made quite clear that GPs should only respond to the initial police letter if they have concerns about the applicant. The police request that any such response is forwarded within 21 days.
“GPs now have clear guidance in respect of a lack of response on their part which states that if they do not respond to this letter within 21 days it will be assumed they have no relevant information and therefore the application will be granted.”
BASC chairman Peter Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms legislation, said: “This is common sense fine-tuning of the process. It should speed up applications while also helping GPs deal with their responsibilities more efficiently.
“It is important for public safety that the medical profession gets fully behind the process. It helps nobody if GPs and other medical bodies throw obstacles in the way of a legitimate process which had previously been agreed by all stakeholders.”