The UK’s largest shooting organisation, The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has welcomed the Northern Ireland Department of Justice’s (DoJ) decision that firearms dealers in NI will not have to establish and maintain electronic registers under a new EU directive.
Initially, the department had put forward a proposal to give NI’s firearms dealers responsibility for complying with EU firearms directive 2008/51 by establishing and maintaining electronic records of all transactions starting from 31 December 2014.
However after meeting with BASC in late October and having listened to the concerns put forward, the department decided that the PSNI should maintain the register not firearms dealers. Firearms dealers will have to provide some additional information to the PSNI’s Firearms and Explosives Branch in order for Northern Ireland to comply with the directive. The additional information can be supplied in paper format as is currently the case.
Tommy Mayne, director of BASC NI, said: “While we are delighted to see that the DoJ has listened to our concerns and that it has taken a very pragmatic approach to this issue, we will need to see the finer detail of its proposals, specifically in relation to component parts. The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s firearms licensing database known as “shogun” already keeps 80 per cent of the information required by the directive therefore it makes complete sense that the electronic register, which will also include the additional 20 per cent, is managed by the police.”
Speaking after the Justice Committee meeting, chairman Paul Givan MLA said: “The Committee is glad to see that the department has taken BASC’s views on board. The directive clearly placed the responsibility for establishing and maintaining electronic registers on member states, not firearms dealers. Placing the onus of responsibility on firearms dealers would have been nothing short of “Gold Plating” the EU directive.”
BASC NI will continue to work with the Committee for Justice and the Department of Justice to ensure that firearms dealers are not unnecessarily burdened by the implementation of the directive.