Medical fees backed by the Home Office
New Home Office proposals to make every gun owner pay a fee to their GP when applying for a shotgun or firearm certificate have been opposed by BASC.
Following a meeting with Nick Hurd, the minister responsible for firearm licensing, BASC’s understanding is that the Home Office plans to abandon the current system agreed in 2016.
Christopher Graffius, BASC’s director of communications, said: “This will be regarded by the shooting community as a betrayal by the government.
“It will discriminate against those who require a firearm as a tool of their job, damage participation in shooting sports and alienate a community which is a natural supporter of the government a month before the local elections.”
The proposals will see the Home Office renege on the agreement reached in 2016 which stated that applicants were not required to pay a fee to GPs for their response to an initial police medical letter sent on application. It ensured that applicants would not be disadvantaged by a GP’s refusal to provide medical information.
It was also agreed that GPs would implement a system that saw them add an encoded ‘marker’ to the medical records of those who own guns. The shooting community considered this a good step towards ensuring public safety.
While the Home Office does not keep records, BASC believes less than 1% of initial firearms licensing applicants are rejected on medical grounds.
Mr Graffius added: “BASC has been told by the Home Office that it is planning to insist every firearms certificate holder consults their GP and pays a fee on application and renewal of their certificate. The figures are not yet clear, but this will be in addition to the fee already payable to the police and could increase the total cost of an application by more than 50%.
“This is an abandonment of risk management in the licensing system, may contravene Treasury rules and is completely disproportionate. We believe that less than 1% of certificates are rejected on medical grounds.”