Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex B


  73.  The basis of the system is the Firearm Certificate issued at the discretion of the police. Firearms and ammunition may not be purchased or acquired lawfully without the authority of a firearm certificate. Issue is dependent upon the police being satisfied that the applicant is a fit person to have possession of a firearm and that he has established a good reason for that possession in respect of each firearm he wishes to possess. The certificate lists each firearm possessed or authorised to be possessed, identified by calibre, type, maker's name and serial number. Ammunition holdings are specified by calibre[109] and quantity; maxima are specified for quantities which may be possessed and purchased or acquired at any one time.

  74.  Transactions, identifying the transferor, his authority to possess the items transferred and the nature and date of the transaction are entered on the certificate by the transferor.

  75.  The firearm certificate, which today costs £56, remains valid for five years unless revoked; it is a personal document which identifies the holder by name, address and a photograph certified by a third party. Certificate renewal requires a process similar to that of application. Both application and renewal require the completion of an application form (upon which the applicant identifies two referees), followed by interview and checks upon the applicant by the police (which take into account the comments of the applicant's referees)—which include one or more home visits when the applicant's provisions for the safe keeping of firearms and ammunition will be reviewed. The police may revoke the authorities granted by a certificate at any time; appeal against such a decision by the police may be made to the Crown Court.

  76.  The administration of the control system is based in three stages. The purpose of the first is to determine whether one who wishes to own a firearm (at one time a right in common law, but now probably lapsed) should be denied on specified grounds;[110] the second stage establishes the parameters within which the certificate holder may exercise the authority granted him; the third is a matter of maintaining a record of transactions set by those parameters.

Abbreviations and references

  ACPO 1991, Multi-force firearms scrutiny. Association of Chief Police Officers.

  Burton, Peter H. 1990, `Firearms Licensing'. Law Society's Gazette, 19 (23 May 1990), 27-8.

  Coopers & Lybrand 1991, Firearms Certification Study, Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte.

  Corkery, JM 1993, Approval of Rifle and Pistol Target Shooting Clubs: the effects of the revised criteria, Research and Planning Unit Paper 79. London: Home Office.

  CSE&W 1997, Criminal Statistics for England and Wales 1997. HMSO.

  Cullen, The Hon Lord 1996, The Public Inquiry into the Shootings at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March 1996, Cm 3386. The Scottish Office.

  Ernst and Young 1992, Home Office: Firearms Licensing Costs. May 1992.

  FCC 1991, Firearms Consultative Committee, Second Annual Report, 1990-91. London: HMSO.

  Greenwood, Colin 1972, Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms control in England and Wales. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

  HAC 1996, Possession of Handguns, Home Affairs Committee Fifth Report. London: HMSO.

  HMIC 1993, The Administration of Firearms Licensing. A Report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. London: Home Office.

  Home Office 1969, Firearms Act: Memorandum for the Guidance of the Police, London: HMSO.

  Home Office 1991, Report on the Administration of the Firearms Licensing System. Home Office (November 1991).

  Home Office 1992a, Home Office News Release 72/92, 13 March 1992.

  Home Office 1992b, Proposal to Establish a National Firearms Control Board, Home Office: March 1992.

  Home Office 1993 Review of the Firearms Control Board for F8 Division. Home Office Management Advisory Services Report No. 14 1993-94. Home Office (December 1993).

  HOSB 1998, `Notifiable Offences: England and Wales, April 1997 to March 1998.' Home Office Statistical Bulletin, Issue 22/98. Home Office.

  Kopel, D.B., 1993, `Peril or Protection? The risks and benefits of handgun prohibition', St Louis Univesity Public Law Review, vol. XII, No. 2 (1993), 285-359.

  Kopel, D.B., 1994, Rocky Mountain News, 30 January 1994.

  Labour Party 1996, Control of Guns (evidence submitted to Lord Cullen's Inquiry into the shootings at Dunblane Primary School).

  Maybanks, A.S.H., 1992, Firearms Controls: An Examination of the Effects of Present Legislation and the Provenance of Firearms Used in Armed Robberies in the Metropolitan Police District. M.A. Dissertation (Unpublished): Faculty of Social Sciences in The University of Exeter.

  McKlintock, F.H. and Gibson, Evelyn 1961, Robbery in London. London: Macmillan.

  NAO 1999, Handgun Surrender and Compensation, National Audit Office: Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. London: Stationery Office.

  Oag, D., McKay, Heather and Coghill, Nicola 1996, An Evaluation of Serious Incidents Involving the Use of a Firearm in 1993, Scottish Office Central Research Unit.

109   Calibre is a measurement of bore size and is thus imprecise as a cartridge identifier. Back

110   Firarms Act 1968, s27. Back

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