General Licences –
Wild Justice continue to threaten legal actions, and there is concern that DEFRA are making bad policy decisions re general licences as a result.
Please continue to monitor the websites to ensure you comply, and member organisations of BSSC will continue to express their concerns to George Eustice Secretary of State.
Medical Reports for Licence Renewals and Applications
If you are having difficulty obtaining a medical report from your GP for your firearms/shotgun/explosive licence renewal or application, you may want to contact MedCert, a highly eminent group of medical professionals who are very supportive of shooting, to do the report for you.
The idea of MedCert was formed after a day of good shooting, followed by good food and drink, in good company, as many a good idea is. After consultation with all the Firearms Licensing Authorities and many chats with well-known FEO’s, MedCert launched their Website.
MedCert provide a service by doctors, GP’s and above, with a wide medical knowledge base, who will immediately on your application to them, request your medical records from your GP (can take upto 4 weeks to arrive), and within seven days of receiving your notes, write a medical report taking into consideration the licensing criteria. This will then be sent to yourself or to your licensing authority, depending on the individual licensing authorities’ procedures. If there are any further issues with regard to the medical report MedCert will stay with you until your licence is renewed/issued. All this for £50.
MedCert are fully GDPR compliant and no information is shared with anyone else. Each applicants’ medical notes are given a reference number, only the doctor writing the report will know who you are. The report will be entirely evidence based, nothing personal about it. MedCert can not place a medical marker on your records as they do not keep your records. Your licencing authority should ask your GP to place a medical marker on your records on completion of your grant/renewal.
MedCert can be contacted via www.medcert.co.uk , or for those without internet, at MedCert, Zinc Building, Great Stoney, Chipping Ongar, Essex, CM5 OAD
Tel. 020 8063 4503 – Discount for SA Members of 10% using code SA1996
SECURITY AND CARTRIDGE RETENTION
At renewal/grant some people who fall into the level 2 security category are being asked to install monitored alarm systems and video cameras based on the 2019 Firearms Security Handbook, this can be a little excessive. The BSSC secretary will meet with the National Police Chiefs Council once Covid-19 restrictions are no-longer in place to resolve several areas of concern within the guidance.
Hampshire Licensing Authority have introduced a voluntary cartridge retention policy. That is on renewal/grant they will ask you to keep one fired cartridge from each of your firearms, for comparison should you lose or have stolen said firearm/s, which might then be used in a crime. Other forces are copying this initiative. However, your participation is VOLUNTARY.
EU PROPOSALS TO BAN ALL LEAD AMMUNITION
The proposals on the restriction of all lead in ammunition (gunshots and bullets) and fishing tackle, being prepared by the European Chemical Agency have been postponed until 15/1/2021, as Covid-19 restrictions have not enabled many of the interested parties to respond to information requests. Black Powder and Muzzle Loading in general may be one area where the ECHA accept that there are no reasonable alternatives to lead, but they are not accepting any exceptions for target shooting.
The BSSC was approached by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) which was researching the practice of lead capture and recycling on outdoor rifle and clay pigeon shooting ranges in preparation for its dossier on the prohibition of lead in ammunition. The Secretary has sought data from member associations that are involved in target shooting, but with many venues being closed due to covid-19 restrictions the data gathered is incomplete.
As a generalisation, all rifle and pistol ranges that responded, trap, recover and recycle their lead with the income from recycling the lead covering most of the costs involved. There was little water run-off, if any, reported on any of the ranges. Removal of lead is vital for safety reasons not just environmental ones, so we have been doing this for years.
For shotgun ranges/grounds, the shot falls in known areas, but very few venues recover and recycle the lead, mostly because of economic viability, although more venues are addressing the issue and will be recovering and recycling in the future.
These EU proposals once ready will go to public consultation in the EU and to the Risk Assessment and Socio-Economic Assessment Committees which are expected to have submitted a combined opinion to the Commission by January 2022. Legislation could be passed later in the year. There are many obstacles both practical and technical to be overcome and FACE have an uphill task in stopping this legislation.
As all this will happen post the Brexit transition period, we may escape this for a while longer, but do not rest on your laurels as there will be a lot of pressure from the anti-shooting lobbyists to follow suit.
THE CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC OF LEAD V NON-LEAD AMMUNITION.
Several shooting organisations recently proposed a voluntary ban on the use of lead shot for the shooting of all live quarry by 2024. “In consideration of wildlife, the environment and to ensure a market for the healthiest game products, at home and abroad, we wish to see an end to both lead and single-use plastics in ammunition used by those taking all live quarry with shotguns within five years.” The manufacturers of shotgun cartridges have responded by saying this is unlikely to happen in such a short timeframe, and had the shooting organisations consulted with the industry, they could have advised the associations of the various problems to be overcome.
Many conservationists are calling for an outright ban on the use of lead shot. Lead is a neuro toxin which can cause poisoning in many birds, scavengers, and ultimately humans who consume game on a regular basis. Some retailers are beginning to state that they will not stock game where lead ammunition has been used. Defra has so far said they do not intend to impose an immediate ban when shooting organisations are regulating themselves.
Lead shot is currently banned on all wetlands in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England and Wales there is a ban on using lead shot to shoot wildfowl and for shooting on foreshores and on sites of specific scientific interest. An EU regulation banning lead shot on wetlands but with worrying legal definitions and ambiguities was expected to be passed before the end of the transition period. Fortunately for us it was not.
Further to that the EU has asked the European Chemicals Agency to “collect information for the assessment of the risk and socio-economic impact of a possible restriction for other uses of lead ammunition, including hunting in other terrains than wetlands and target shooting, as well as for the use of lead weights for fishing”. It is expected that the ECHA will propose a complete ban on lead ammunition because of risk to human health.
In the last 30 years many countries have phased out the use of lead shot over wetlands (this is before the EU regulation expected to come in later this year). Denmark and Sweden, hailed by some as leading the way, have a complete ban on the use of lead shot ammunition, as did Norway. However, in 2015 Norway repealed this ban except for over wetlands.
Why would Norway do this? Despite all the popular pressure to ban all lead shot ammunition they felt there was no conclusive scientific evidence that an outright ban was beneficial to the environment and wildlife. Or that the available alternatives were effective enough, let alone the lack of evidence about the effect such substitute materials will have on health or the environment.
So, what are the alternatives to lead ammunition, Steel, Plastic, Copper, Copper-Zinc alloy, Bismuth, Tungsten, a variety of alloys yet to be learnt about? There is no straightforward swap to suit all ammunition.
Non lead shotgun cartridges generally use steel or bismuth shot with plastic wads, a few have biodegradable wads. There is a shortage of steel shot in Europe, increasing demand will only inflate prices. There is also the question of suitability of steel shot for older shotgun barrels, and whether you will need to re-barrel more frequently, even with a modern shotgun. Let alone the laws in this country on performance of steel ammunition for civilians. The move by the military away from lead to steel is for better penetration, any positive environmental impact is just a nice secondary effect. Bismuth behaves similarly to lead but like steel has limited availability. However, Bismuth is medically proven to be a neurotoxin, and some Canadians are calling for toxic impact of Bismuth on the environment and in game to be re-assessed.
In short, the shotgun industry applauds the aim to have more environmentally friendly, less toxic but still effective and humane cartridges for all shotgun use. But it will take time to develop and test new materials, to secure continuous supply of said materials and to tool up for production. For the moment the industry is saying “At present the only commercially available options are lead shot with fibre wads, steel with plastic wads or unaffordable premium non-lead shot. Shooters and land owners will need to consider these options and then decide which option is preferable going forward. Right now, we need to decide which to eliminate– lead or plastic? We cannot avoid using both.”
It is an imperfect world, so let’s give our support to the aim of achieving the above, but accept that whilst we will strive to do this as quickly as possible, we accept that it will only happen in a time that is practicable. Just as we have to give consideration to shotgun ammunition, we will in due course be expected to give the same consideration to all ammunition for all guns of all ages.
As of 2017 the “Police and Crime Act 2017” prohibited the sale, loan or transfer of any firearms that had not been deactivated to the 2016 EU standard or any subsequent standard as published by the Secretary of State.
This does not affect OWNERSHIP of pre 2016 deactivated firearms, but does prohibit their TRANSFER, whether by sale, swap, gift or inheritance.
The only exception to the transfer of a pre 8/4/2016 deactivated firearm is when it is transferred to a museum which holds a “museum firearms licence”.
Firearms deactivated to standards which pre-date 8/4/2016, or any subsequently published specification by the Secretary of State, are considered to be “defectively deactivated weapons” (DDW).
Firearms Regulations 2019
With respect to firearms deactivated from 8/4/2016 and acquired since 14/9/18
As of 12/12/2019 it becomes a criminal offence to TRANSFER or LEND, for more than 14 days, a deactivated firearm to another person without registering the transfer with the Home Office. The person making the transfer must notify to whom they are transferring the deactivated firearm, with the make, caliber and serial number by registered post, recorded delivery or email before, or on the day of transfer or as soon after as is practicable.
Persons in POSSESION of a deactivated firearm commit an offence if they have not notified the Home Office of possession unless notice of the transfer has already been given by the person who previously owned it.
Deactivated firearms acquired between 8/4/2016 and 14/9/2018 which are unaltered do not have to be notified until 14/3/2021, unless transferred in the meantime.
The forms are available on GOV.UK and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Deactivated Firearms Notification
Serious Violence Unit
5th Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
This was brought in as a Statutory Instrument 1420 on 31/10/2019 as a direct result of EU directive 2017/853.
Layman’s Guide to Registration and Notification of Transfer of De-activated Firearms
As per Firearms Regulations 2019
2014-11-12 Letter from ACPO Firearms & Explosives Licensing Working Group Chair, Andy Marsh, dated 11 nov 2014