Thank you for contacting me about firearms licensing.
I can absolutely assure you that I am not opposed to the responsible possession of appropriate firearms. I certainly recognise, as I know from my own experience, that the overwhelming majority of licence and firearms holders are responsible individuals who exercise proper controls.
I believe licensing and, where necessary, firearm prohibition, must be proportionate and administered fairly and appropriately. I am against adopting disproportionate reactions when it comes to gun control and I am pleased that Government has resisted pressure when knee-jerk but inappropriate reactions have been demanded.
As you will be aware, the working group was established to improve the arrangements between GPs and the police in relation to information sharing about the medical suitability of firearm certificate holders, with a view to strengthening public safety. Members of the working group are wide ranging, and include the Home Office, police representatives, BMA, RCGP, GMC, Department of Health, BASC, BSSC, Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeepers Organisation and Information Commissioners, among others.
When police write to each GP to check on an applicant's medical suitability to hold a firearm or shotgun licence they ask the GP to place a firearms marker on the patient's record so that the GP can advise police if a person begins to suffer from a relevant medical condition during the (five year) life of the certificate. If the police do not receive a response from a GP within 21 days of their request for information about an applicant's health, they can progress with the application. Applications are considered on a case by case basis, taking into consideration all available information.
Revised guidance was developed as a result of the group's work. The Government has been clear that the arrangements would be kept under review, and this includes looking at how the arrangements are working in particular areas and speaking with interested parties.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.