The Home Office has confirmed that new firearm and shotgun application forms will come into effect from 31st December.
BASC has welcomed the clarity to be brought by the changes.
The new forms will ask whether an applicant has ever been diagnosed or treated for a relevant medical condition to remove ambiguity around the current wording.
They will apply in England, Scotland and Wales. The cut-off date for submission for applications using the old form is 28th February 2018
BASC also understands that other minor amendments will clear the way for an eventual move to online applications.
BASC firearms officer Mike Eveleigh said: “The Home Office has now confirmed that the ‘go live’ date for the new application form is 31st December 2017. There will be a transition period for applications made on the old form. The loose wording on the old form caused problems by simply asking if an applicant was suffering from any prescribed illness. We are pleased that the changes will bring greater clarity to the question.
“The old wording was an anomaly which caused problems for police licensing departments and for members. We have been pushing for improvements to the forms for many years.
“While it won’t be obvious on the forms, there are also some legal changes in the background which we understand will bring closer the day when applications will be available online.
“If it simplifies and speeds up the application system, then it will be a welcome improvement. Many functions are dealt with online now and the public has come to expect this level of service.
“We will work with police and the Home Office to ensure that nobody is disadvantaged by the online process.”
BASC chairman Peter Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms law, said: “BASC is aware that applicants have had problems in the past simply because the non-specific wording in some of the questions on the forms was open to interpretation.
“To complete the forms incorrectly can lead to prosecution, so it is pleasing to see the Home Office has now imported this clarity.
“We are also hopeful that online licensing, when it is introduced, will generally improve the licensing process. However, BASC will work to ensure that those of our members who can’t access the online system for whatever reason will still have access to the paper system.”