BASC is urging members to contact its firearms team for advice if they are disadvantaged by police forces or GPs who are pre-empting proposed changes to medical involvement in firearms licensing.
While the Home Office has announced plans to change medical involvement, BASC is aware of a police force that has already publicly abandoned the scheme agreed in 2016.
BASC is seeking legal advice on the position adopted earlier this month by Lincolnshire Police which now requires that medical checks will be required for the grant and renewal of shotgun and firearm certificates.
BASC also understands that South Yorkshire Police is now insisting that a medical report is obtained by the applicant when their GP sends notification of conscientious objection. This is despite Home Office guidance stating that the applicant should not be disadvantaged by a GP’s refusal to provide medical information.
It also differs from Home Office guidance which says: “If the GP feels unable to participate on the basis of a conscientious objection, or for any other reason, they should refer the patient to a colleague if possible. If no colleague is willing or available, the GP should inform the police immediately that they will not be able to complete the form. In the unlikely event that this arises the police should discuss with the applicant/certificate holder how to obtain adequate medical information.”
BASC is advising members having problems with medical evidence to contact its full-time firearms team for advice specific to the area in which they live. Feedback from members will also inform the association’s opposition to the proposed changes.
Paul Dale, BASC’s firearms team manager, said: “The current Home Office guidance is clear that applicants should not be disadvantaged if a GP refuses to participate in the licensing system.
“The guidance is clear that there should be no expectation of a fee for a GP replying to the initial police letter following application and if a doctor has not responded to the police in 21 days the police should assume that there are no relevant medical issues.
“At the moment, we have a broken system whereby the medical profession is behaving inconsistently across different force areas, in some cases with the support of those forces. This is causing serious problems for our members.
“BASC’s firearms team is staffed by experts in their field. The responses from various police forces to the news of the Home Office plans means that the position across the country is changing on an almost daily basis. Our staff are best-placed to provide the individually-tailored advice that members need.
“BASC is here to support its members through any problems. But we need members to keep us informed, as information about what is happening on the ground is important and will be used as evidence to oppose those changes detrimental to shooters and public safety.”
Contact BASC’s firearms team on 01244 573 010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org