Firearms licensing system on the verge of collapse due to Covid

Published by John Cullinan on

Firearms licensing system on the verge of collapse due to Covid

Many members will have heard of the problems associated with the grant or renewal of firearm or shotgun certificates.

Much has been made of the affect of Covid on home visits or permission visits.  There are also many problems faced by forces regarding the retention and recruitment of staff to deal with applications.

 Late last year, North Yorkshire Police announced that it would not accept new firearm and shotgun certificate applications and instead will focus exclusively on renewals. Now Thames Valley, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Hampshire Police have adopted the same policy. And several other forces appear to be informally operating on the same basis with members from several different force areas reporting that their applications were not being processed by their local force. 

The problems appear to have arisen due to the collision of multiple factors. Police forces are currently experiencing high absence levels due to COVID.  Changes in guidance from the Home Office, which forces are obliged to follow, have also added complexity to the process and have mandated the involvement of already overstretched medical professionals.

Finally, some forces appear to be taking a more sceptical view of applications following the Plymouth shootings. Bill Harriman, BASC director of firearms, said: “The discontinuation of grant applications is a failure to discharge the police’s statutory duty. The police cannot switch the law on and off as it pleases them.

“The process of firearms licensing is a public service to ensure public safety, the Home Office is required to act before the whole system collapses.”

Let us hope that the situation improves, as the grant of shotgun certificates directly effects the sale of guns and the take up of lessons and use of grounds.