Q I was recently notified by my local police Firearms Department that my shotgun certificate was due for renewal. I duly re-applied in good time and after a couple of days received an acknowledgement effectively telling me that due to the volume of applications they are currently dealing with, it could take anything up to two months to process my application. My shotgun certificate in fact expired and so far I have still not received details of an appointment for a firearms officer to interview me and inspect my guns. I am now wondering if and when the officer comes out, will he require me to lodge my shotguns with another certificate holder or an RFD. What should I do?
Aiden Gardner, Salford
A This question struck a particular chord with me as I am going through almost exactly the same scenario myself. It is a common cause for concern and I’m afraid there is no easy answer that will satisfy. Strictly, the legal position is that once your old certificate expires you are no longer entitled to possess shotguns unless you have a new and valid certificate. To be absolutely sure of avoiding this technical illegality, therefore, you could transfer any guns you have as you suggested.
That said, there are now so many people in the same boat that I rather suspect the firearms departments don’t wish to be deluged with even more applications that they can’t process quickly enough. However, simply doing nothing isn’t advisable either. I recommend that you contact your local firearms department because different police forces are dealing with the issue of delays in different ways. Some are prepared to issue temporary certificates. Others, like mine, are apparently not enforcing the issue provided there is a pending application for renewal in their possession which is being processed. However, I have been told that once my certificate expires I cannot buy or sell a gun. Nor can I purchase any ammunition, which adds to the inconvenience.Stuart Farr