BASC has held a meeting of firearms dealers in Northern Ireland to discuss concerns over the impact of licensing changes on businesses – with invites sent to senior Department of Justice and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officials.
On the agenda were PSNI plans for an entirely online licensing system, the restriction on numbers and type of firearms that dealers can hold and application-processing times and costs – with the granting or renewal of a firearm certificate this year increasing from £50 to £98.
BASC also expressed disappointment that, having previously raised these issues with the PSNI and the Department of Justice, they were, at the time of writing, yet to receive a formal response from either body.
Tommy Mayne, BASC NI director, said: “Prior to the increase in fees, the level of service was best described as poor. When challenged, PSNI responded by saying that the service being delivered was in line with the £50 fee. Despite the fact that the fee has nearly doubled, the level of service has declined even further and is now more in line with a £20 fee.”
Patsy McGlone, MLA and chair of the NI Assembly’s All Party Group on Country Sports, said: “This situation has been ongoing for some considerable time and is compounded by the fact that dealers are restricted in the number and type of firearms that they hold.
“The restriction means that while applications are being processed, dealers can’t replace firearms they have sold, but which remain in their strong-room. The protracted processing times mean that some dealers may ultimately go out of business as a result of their inability to trade properly.”