BASC has organised a meeting of Northern Ireland firearms dealers to discuss licensing issues they believe are negatively impacting their businesses.
The meeting, which is open to BASC trade member firearms dealers and guests invited by the association, will take place on Tuesday 8 November (7pm) at the Lagan Valley Island complex in Lisburn.
Written invitations have also been sent to the PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton, and a senior Department of Justice official.
Tommy Mayne, BASC NI director, said: “BASC has listened carefully to the concerns of our trade members, who are genuinely worried about the future of their businesses and their livelihoods.
“Their main concerns are PSNI plans to introduce an entirely online licensing system, the restriction on the number and type of firearms that dealers can hold and the length of time that PSNI Firearms and Explosives Branch take to process applications. In February of this this year, the cost for the grant or renewal of a firearm certificate increased from £50 to £98.
“Prior to the increase in fees, the level of service was best described as poor. When challenged, PSNI responded by saying that the service being delivered was in line with the £50 fee. Despite the fact that the fee has nearly doubled, the level of service has declined even further and is now more in line with a £20 fee.
“BASC has raised these important issues previously with both the PSNI and the Department of Justice, however no progress has yet been made. Additionally, on 18th August, BASC and the Gun Trade Guild NI, gave a presentation to the NI Policing Board’s Performance Committee, specifically in relation to PSNI plans to introduce an online only licensing system. Some nine weeks have passed and, surprisingly, we have yet to receive a formal response from the Performance Committee.”
Patsy McGlone, MLA and chair of the NI Assembly’s All Party Group on Country Sports, said: “This situation has been ongoing for some considerable time and is compounded by the fact that dealers are restricted in the number and type of firearms that they hold.
“That restriction means that while applications are being processed, they can’t replace firearms they have sold but which remain in their strong-room. The protracted processing times mean that some dealers may ultimately go out of business as a result of their inability to trade. The time for talking is over, we need urgent action to help ease the current situation. I will be writing to both the Chief Constable and the Justice Minister seeking an urgent meeting to try and resolve the situation.”
Oliver McCullough, BASC council member and chair of the BASC NI Advisory Committee, said: “While I note that Firearms and Explosives Branch are feeling the effect of both staffing and budget cuts, the simple fact remains that the livelihoods of firearms dealers are at risk. The cost of a firearm certificate has almost doubled yet, according our trade members, turnaround times are the worst they have ever been. This is an unacceptable situation and cannot continue. BASC is, as always, ready and willing to engage with the PSNI and the Department of Justice, to help in any way we can.”
For further details please contact the BASC Northern Ireland Office on 028 92 60 50 50 or email firstname.lastname@example.org