Written evidence submitted by Dr John Thorogood (FLR0005)
28th September 2022
Call for Evidence: Firearms Licensing Regulations in Scotland
I am submitting evidence in my capacity as a private individual who has held both shotgun and firearms certificates as a Scottish resident for over 40 years. My primary interests are game shooting, having managed a shooting syndicate in Aberdeenshire for 32 years, and also deer stalking, both roe and red.
My experience of the firearms licensing process has been consistently good, meaning that my applications, inspections and interviews have all been dealt with courteously and professionally, my references have been accepted and no details of my applications have been found to be faulty in any way. My recent renewals and variations have been exceptionally efficient.
The Police have a responsibility to the community to ensure that they have carried out the necessary due diligence. Possession and use of firearms is a privilege and certificate holders must be able to show good reason and be of sound character and mind. I fully accept the necessity for the interviews and checks on my background and mental health and have not had any issues relating to access to the medical records held by my GP.
Regarding the three issues outlined in the terms of reference:
- As a licensee, I find the firearms licensing regulations to be absolutely fit for purpose. The level of crime committed by individuals legally permitted to possess firearms is negligible and is clear evidence that the regulations in their present form are effective in maintaining public safety. Significant change does not appear to be justified on the basis of any evidence related to public safety
- Game shooting and deer stalking are carried out throughout the UK according to the same general codes of practice and social protocols. Vermin and pests still have to be controlled within the bounds set by the laws and general licences. I do not agree with the notion that Scotland has any particularly unique circumstances, either in the nature of its agricultural or sporting communities to the rest of the UK. I therefore cannot see any significant issues which would justify any differences in regulations from those in England or any of the other devolved administrations. The downside of differences in regulation could well turn out to be disruptive, bureaucratic and likely resulting in a number of unintended adverse consequences.
- The process for obtaining a licence does not need to be changed with regard to the applicant’s mental health. The involvement of GPs, the licensee’s criminal record together with the licensee’s posts on social media already provide sufficient evidence on which to base a decision regarding a licensee’s fitness. Were any changes in this respect to be contemplated, it is essential to ensure that all decisions are supported with solid evidence and anything from anonymous sources which cannot be challenged on appeal must be avoided. The only change I would suggest is that an extension of the period of validity for certificates to 10 years should be considered.
These points conclude my submission
John L Thorogood