Li­cens­ing sys­tem needs over­haul

Shooting Gazette - - Letters -

In his ex­cel­lent ar­ti­cle [ Rights

and Priv­i­leges, Au­gust is­sue], John Walker lays out an in­ter­est­ing ar­ray of facts but, strangely, misses out on some salient points.

There are 43 con­stab­u­lar­ies that have the power to is­sue shot­gun cer­tifi­cates or firearms li­cences. It is gen­er­ally un­der­stood that some of these pro­vide a good ser­vice to those of us who use firearms ei­ther as part of our em­ploy­ment or for leisure and sport­ing in­ter­ests.

Oth­ers have chief of­fi­cers who are known to be an­tifirearms and against the per­sonal own­er­ship of firearms by pri­vate ci­ti­zens. In­ter­est­ingly, some of these con­stab­u­lar­ies have the worst record and rep­u­ta­tion for ser­vice to gun own­ers.

It is long over­due that the en­tire firearms li­cens­ing process should be re­moved from po­lice con­trol, and a Na­tional Statu­tory Li­cens­ing Au­thor­ity cre­ated, com­plete with a code of con­duct and a le­gal obli­ga­tion to process all ap­pli­ca­tions/re­newals through­out the UK to a sin­gle stan­dard. Yes, lo­cal po­lice forces would still need to be con­sulted with re­gard to an ap­pli­cant’s crim­i­nal his­tory, where such ex­ists, and also to es­tab­lish whether the po­lice have any other rea­son to ob­ject to the is­sue of a li­cence, but at least the fi­nal de­ci­sion would not be down to chief of­fi­cers.

At the same time, the BMA, the GMC, and other doc­tors’ ‘unions’ should be brought to heel. There are many cir­cum­stances where doc­tors can be or­dered (by a coroners’ court or a high court judge, to give two ex­am­ples) to re­veal a per­son’s med­i­cal his­tory with­out hav­ing the pa­tient’s or the next of kin’s per­mis­sion.

Whilst John’s ref­er­ence to sub­mit­ting a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest un­der Sec­tion 3 of the Ac­cess to Health Records Act is in­deed valid, and a salu­tary method of deal­ing with an un­co­op­er­a­tive GP, it would take only a sim­ple ‘tweak’ of the law (we do in any case have to de­clare any ill­nesses that might af­fect our abil­ity to own/use a firearm and au­tho­rise the po­lice to ac­cess our med­i­cal records), to com­pel GPS to sup­ply fac­tual an­swers to statu­tory ques­tions, such as “Does Mr/mrs...... suf­fer from any of the fol­low­ing con­di­tions (Parkin­son’s, mul­ti­ple sclero­sis, schizophre­nia, and the oth­ers listed) or ill­nesses that might pro­hibit them from safely pos­sess­ing/us­ing firearms, or cause them to be a threat to pub­lic safety?”

Sup­ply­ing a fac­tual an­swer (in ex­change for a one-off fee) would not place any onus of re­spon­si­bil­ity on the GP, and would side­step those who claim to be con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors. In cases where the ap­pli­cant might dis­agree with his/her GP’S com­ments, it would be up to the Na­tional Li­cens­ing Au­thor­ity to com­mis­sion ei­ther ex­am­i­na­tion by, or fur­ther re­ports from, a suit­able spe­cial­ist.

Paul Fievez, by email

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