The Countryside Alliance has launched a campaign for fair and consistent application of firearms licensing laws across the UK.
This follows an appearance on Countryfile by a spokesman for Lincolnshire Police, who said the force would now hold up all certificate and renewal applications until a GP had produced a medical report – usually at extra expense to the applicant.
When an application is filed, GPs are automatically asked for a report on whether the applicant has any conditions that may affect their ability to safely possess and use a firearm. Home Office guidance states that forces should assume there are no issues if they have not heard from a GP within 21 days. Furthermore, it says no charges should be levied for a basic medical report, as long as no significant extra work is warranted.
BASC and the Countryside Alliance had already taken individual practices to task over their failure to follow the guidance last year. However, it now appears that the problem is more widespread than initially thought. Liam Stokes, head of shooting at the Countryside Alliance, said: “Countryfile effectively exposed the fundamental flaw that is threatening to collapse the medical procedures associated with firearms licensing. The spokesman from Lincolnshire Police declared that all applications and renewals will be held up until whatever fee the GP’s wish to extract is paid. This will create a postcode lottery in which an applicant in neighbouring Nottinghamshire can expect the system to operate as laid out in Home Office Guidance, whereas an applicant in Lincolnshire is subject to a random system of unregulated charges.
“At the Countryside Alliance we say this is unfair and inconsistent, and we want everyone who agrees with us to join our campaign for reform. This new Guidance is less than two years old. The Home Office needs to either find a way to enforce it, or admit it isn’t working and get all the stakeholders back around the table to agree something that works. Please head to our website and join our campaign by signing the eLobby which will send that message straight to the Home Office minister with the power to sort this mess out.”
Join the campaign at: www.countrysidealliance.org/firearms-licensing