The Home Office may be about to attempt to force gun owners to pay their GPs for filling out an ‘initial medical records check’ and adding a marker to medical records. This is likely to be accompanied by a change in guidance to the police making it a requirement that an applicant’s GP responds before a licence is issued.
The Countryside Alliance wants to sort out the chaos currently gripping the medical procedures associated with firearms licensing. It says: ‘While the Government appears to be prioritising pacifying GPs’ demands for a fee, there are far more important failings that need to be addressed. This process was agreed two years ago to improve public safety, and none of these improvements have been delivered. There can be no discussion of a fee until these problems have been resolved, or the shooting community will be left paying for a system that does not work.’
For this reason, the Countryside Alliance is laying out five conditions which must be met before any discussions of a possible fee for the initial records check and the application of the marker.
- Any medical procedure, and any agreed fee, must be consistently applied across England, Scotland and Wales, ending the current postcode lottery.
- A mechanism must exist to ensure that GPs are applying the marker to applicant’s medical records.
- GPs must not be able to refuse to cooperate with the police in the discharge of the police’s statutory duty under the Firearms Act 1968. Conscientious objection should only be allowed in those areas specifically recognised in law, as reflected in the terms of the NHS GP contract. This right to conscientious objection does not extend to private firearms ownership any more than to car ownership and the provision of medical evidence required by the DVLA.
- If a fee is introduced, it must be a one-off cost for the applicant and reflect the independently-assessed cost of performing the initial check and applying the marker.
- The introduction of an agreed system of continuous monitoring must lead to the implementation of a ten-year licence.
The Countryside Alliance has sent these five conditions to Nick Hurd MP, the Home Office minister responsible for making thr firearms licensing system function.