The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has written to the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Justice Committee, requesting an opportunity to make a formal presentation following licensing changes to owning and purchasing firearms magazines

Under a new policy, firearm certificate holders must now apply in advance and pay a £30 licensing fee for any new firearms magazine.

As well as magazines now being listed on certificates the Police Service of Northern Ireland Firearms and Explosives Branch (FEB) are demanding that applicants articulate their “good reason” to possess the magazines.

BASC NI director Tommy Mayne said: “Despite the lack of consultation, BASC and the Northern Ireland Firearms Dealers’ Association (NIFDA) have been engaging with FEB since late 2020. During our meeting on 20 January 2021, Paul Givan, chair of the NI Assembly’s Justice Committee, left FEB in no doubt that the branch should work to find an adequate solution, rather than have it dealt with by the Justice Committee.

“With no sign of movement on the issue within FEB, we have been left with no choice but to request a formal meeting with the Justice Committee. We will be asking the committee to use its powers of scrutiny and oversight, to help resolve this debacle.

“BASC and the NIFDA had high hopes for a significant improvement in relationships with FEB following the appointment in September of a new Head of Firearms Licensing, Dr Jonathan Howarth. However, their failure to consult with the shooting community is yet another example of FEB introducing new policies without thinking about how they will be received on the ground.”

David McBride, NIFDA chair, said: “General Condition 9 on all NI Firearm Certificates, makes it an offence for the certificate holder to have in their possession any magazine, for any firearm, other than the firearms listed on the firearm certificate, so we are at a loss to understand the motivation behind this decision.  

“It is fair to say that this decision, and the lack of consultation prior to implementation, has caused considerable ill feeling with certificate holders and firearms dealers alike. The decision has damaged the reputation of PSNI at a time when the Chief Constable is already under considerable political pressure.”

BASC and the NIFDA, will continue to work together to achieve the best possible outcome for our members. The organisations thank the engagement from various MLAs including; Paul Givan, chair of the NI Assembly’s Justice Committee; Patsy McGlone, chair of the All-Party Group on Country Sports; Mervyn Storey, chair of the NI Policing Board’s Performance Committee; and Jim Allister (QC). 

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