BASC is challenging a decision by Cheshire Constabulary to change its firearms licensing policy.
Under the new policy, applicants for shotgun and firearms certificates must have their medical declaration information verified by their GP.
This change in policy is being applied to all new applications made on or after 22nd October 2018 and will be applied to renewals of all certificates due to expire on or after 21st January 2019.
Cheshire has amended its policy in line with changes made by police in Lincolnshire, Kent, Merseyside and Nottinghamshire.
This is despite current Home Office guidance stating that if a police force does not receive a response to their initial request for medical information from an applicant’s GP, they should assume there are no medical issues and grant a licence.
BASC is strongly opposed to Cheshire Constabulary’s policy change and has written to the force’s Acting Chief Constable, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the county’s MPs requesting meetings to discuss concerns about whether these policies are evidence based or proportionate.
BASC has written to all of its members in Cheshire to highlight the change in policy and to encourage them to contact their MP.
Christopher Graffius, BASC’s executive director of communications and public affairs, said: “We are strongly opposed to Cheshire Constabulary’s policy change and we are working hard to find a political solution. However, we reserve the right to take legal action as and when appropriate.
“We have requested copies of impact assessments and the evidence justifying these changes in policy.
“What we want is an efficient, cost-effective and robust system of firearms licensing that protects public safety and provides excellent service to the shooting community. We believe that is best provided by police forces following the agreed protocols laid down by the Home Office.
“We will be asking Cheshire Constabulary whether it has consulted with any of the firearm and shotgun certificate holders who will be impacted by this change in policy.
“We also want to raise our fears that GPs will not be consistent in the fees they may charge for medical checks and we want assurances that a system will be put in place to ensure GPs put an encoded reminder on certificate holders’ medical notes in case medical issues arise during the life of the certificate.”
Click here for the latest policy updates on the medical involvement in firearms licensing in England, Wales and Scotland.