What You Need to Know: West Mercia Q&A on Firearms Licensing
News Dealer & Industry News
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has just released the findings of its investigation into the performance of firearms licensing departments (FLDs) in England and Wales, and it makes for an interesting read. BASC found "considerable differences" between the 42 separate firearms licensing departments investigated, concluding major failings to the shooting community.
These failings could have a serious impact on gun owners and registered firearms dealers (RFDs) in the UK, who are already facing increased regulation and bureaucracy. This article will explore the findings found in 'A review of firearms licensing departments in England and Wales (2022)' and what this could potentially mean for firearms owners.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is the UK's largest shooting organisation, representing the interests of over 145,000 members. In light of recent events, BASC decided to investigate how well FLDs were working in terms of efficiency and effectiveness in order to review and identify best practices within these teams.
The investigation looked at how quickly FLDs were processing firearms applications, analysing their firearms licensing practices and costs involved. Cross-referencing information from the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS), Police Scotland and responses from 34 out of the 42 forces investigated, BASC have made conclusions and recommendations for the future.
Key findings of 'A review of firearms licensing departments in England and Wales (2022)' are as follows:
BASC have concluded that considerable inconsistencies between FLDs "cannot be justified" and have called for a major overhaul of firearm licensing departments across England and Wales. Specifically compared to Police Scotland’s unified system, found to be running without delays, processing costing variation or staffing levels inconsistencies.
BASC have stated the seven most consistent forces in terms of costs, staffing per certificate processed and turnaround times – Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Cleveland, Essex, Thames Valley and Warwickshire – all used online processing, which "almost certainly" helps them achieve their efficient service.
Suggestions made in the review include having chief constables and PCCs examine these seven forces, as well as Police Scotland, to put plans in to emulate them across the whole of the UK. With a recommendation of a complete reform of the current system with a goal to achieving "more consistent, efficient and effective systems in all forces".
The findings of BASC's investigation, whilst perhaps not surprising to many firearms owners, are shocking to read. The fact that there is such a discrepancy in how quickly and efficiently different FLDs can process applications points to a need for serious reform within the system.
It is reassuring to see that some forces are already ahead of the game in terms of utilising online systems to increase efficiency. This also ties into the recent call to replace the National Firearms Licensing Management System by the Home Office, in which a more centralised online gun register may be created.
Whilst licensing systems across England and Wales may be affecting number of licenses granted, the buying and selling of firearms is still booming across the country. With the most advertisements on any firearms marketplace in the UK, Gunstar is the #1 place to buy and sell your guns.
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