NIAETHE Northern Ireland Assembly has passed a number of firearms amendments as part of the Justice (No 2) Bill.

The changes will see an increase in firearms licensing fees, a reduction in the age for supervised shooting and the introduction of a system allowing certificate holders to exchange one firearm for another within specific bands.

The new fees come into effect today and are significantly less than the Department of Justice had initially proposed. The granting and renewal of a firearms certificate increases to £98,  a certificate variation now costs £30 while the fee for a firearm dealer’s certificate doubles to £300.

The introduction of the banded system will benefit certificate holders and firearms dealers. It is expected to be implemented in late spring this year and means the exchange of firearms by dealers under the banded system will cost £15 – half the cost of a variation carried out by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

BASC Northern Ireland director Tommy Mayne said: “BASC is pleased with the outcome in relation to both fees and the banded system.

“However, it is unfortunate the reduction in age will only allow a person 12 years or over to shoot clay targets under supervision within a police-approved gun club. BASC has always felt that young people in NI should be afforded the same opportunities as their counterparts in GB, who are able to shoot live quarry under supervision. We will continue to work towards that objective.

“We owe a significant debt of gratitude to MLAs Patsy McGlone, Paul Frew and Edwin Poots for their support on these issues.”

Patsy McGlone, chair of the all party group on country sports, said: “I am delighted that the assembly has passed this legislation. I would like to thank BASC, Countryside Alliance Ireland and the Gun Trade Guild NI for their commitment and hard work on these important issues.”

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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