Our Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
Many of you have a shotgun certificate or firearms licence and are therefore aware that, whilst the UK has one of the world’s strongest and most rigorous licensing systems, it also contains many anomalies.
Our firearms legislation is not fixed in stone, instead it continually evolves and improves through various statutory instruments and Bills aimed at closing loopholes opened up by new technologies and dangers.
Last March the Countryside Alliance signaled our belief that the Policing and Crime Bill, the latest Bill involved with closing loopholes in the law, could be used to clear up some of the more obvious anomalies, and in turn improve the system, and we have been in discussion with Government and MPs with the support of colleagues in the British Shooting Sports Council since. As a result of those discussions the Government yesterday successfully moved two of our proposed amendments to the Bill in the House of Lords.
The first amendment means that if a firearms licence renewal has been submitted in a timely fashion and the police have failed to complete the licensing process before the expiry date then the certificate will remain valid for a further period of eight weeks. As many of you will unfortunately be aware some police forces are consistently failing to renew licences on time and that can create real problems for licence holders who will either be left with a restricted temporary permit, or have to lodge their guns with another licence holder until theirs is renewed. The amendment means that if a renewal application has been made in good time then the licence can be extended for a period of up to 8 weeks after its original expiry date.
The second amendment deals with a classic contradiction in our legislation which means that someone who holds a firearms licence which specifically allows them to own a rifle for the purpose of managing deer must also have a specific exemption from the police to possess the expanding ammunition which is legally required for deer culling. The amendment moves expanding ammunition back to Section 1, removing the need for the totally unnecessary police exemption.
These amendments are of benefit both to licence holders and the police licensing department, and we look forward to them becoming legally binding in the near future. Changing the law is a long and complex business and we are very grateful for the support of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, the Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, and the British Shooting Sports Council in securing these significant improvements to firearms legislation for you.
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