BASC is urging Greater Manchester Police (GMP) not to pre-empt a government consultation after the force announced it would be changing its firearms licensing policy from next month.
GMP has said that from July 1st it wants a GP to verify the medical information provided by those seeking firearm and shotgun certificates at the point of application, which is a significant deviation on a previously agreed national protocol.
But the Home Office is not due to open its consultation on firearms – including medical involvement in licensing – until next month.
BASC is seeking an urgent meeting with the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police to discuss concerns about the change in policy which will unduly penalise the vast majority of applicants.
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “It seems bizarre that GMP should choose to introduce new policy ahead of the Home Office opening a consultation on that very issue.
“When government has said it will be calling for the views of key stakeholders before making statutory or legislative changes, it is entirely reasonable to expect those stakeholders would not pre-empt that consultation.
“The lawful, legitimate firearms community in Manchester will be rightly aggrieved that its police force is making unnecessary, punitive changes to policy without letting government do its work first.”
GMP’s change in policy runs contrary to Home Office guidance for England and Wales and will be in breach of an agreement made in 2016 by the Home Office Medical Evidence Working Group which clearly set out that medical involvement would only be necessary if an applicant declared a relevant condition on their initial application form.
Mr Harriman added: “The vast majority of applicants do not have such conditions, but the changes proposed by GMP will likely see everyone being forced to pay up for their GPs to review their medical records, regardless of whether they actually have medical issues that required further investigation.
“This is an unnecessary burden on GPs and inherently unfair on the vast majority of applicants who will now be forced to pay for another layer of bureaucracy they don’t actually need.”
GMP say the change will affect new shotgun and firearm applications submitted from 1st July 2019 and any renewal from 1st October 2019.