- Published: Thursday, 21 January 2016 17:43
- Written by Jonny Ellsmore
- Hits: 2390
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation is a body that represents the shooting community, they campaign for the rights of shooters and you can obtain several benefits by being a member. Being a member of BASC will first and foremost provide you with liability insurance for shooting and their rates vary based on the type of shooting; they will also serve to advise firearms owners or firearms certificate applicants on the legislation surrounding the acquisition and use of firearms.
I have found BASC to be incredibly useful in clearing up issues that have arisen from the inconsistency of UK police forces’ firearms departments. It turns out that some of the things police forces insist you do, are absolutely not a legal requirement and they can often give misleading information to shooters. An example is that on a closed certificate, you need to inform the police where you are shooting and you have to have written permission. You don't have to have written permission to shoot on land, verbal permission is enough. You most certainly don't need to inform the police of where you are shooting, you may have to check the land is cleared for the calibre you wish to use via the police firearms dept, only if you have a restriction on your certificate in the conditions.
A police force in the UK issued me with some additional slots I requested through a variation (after talks and advice from BASC) and sent with the new certificate an accompanying letter saying that the certificate was closed for the new centrefire calibres and I would only be able to shoot on the pieces of land X and Y that I applied for the calibres using at the moment until land checks came back. The certificate does not have what people would call a closed condition, it reads ‘The firearms and ammunition shall be used for shooting vermin, fox, deer and ANY LAWFUL QUARRY SUITABLE FOR THAT CALIBRE and for zeroing on ranges or land over which the holder has lawful authority to shoot’. This is what people would call open, so the letter from police force X is irrelevant according to the person at BASC who advised me. The law does not recognize the terms ‘open’ and ‘closed’, however you can be prosecuted for shooting overland that has not been ‘deemed suitable by the chief officer of police’ for that calibre if that clause is mentioned on your certificate.
Almost always, you will have the more restrictive condition on your first application and you will almost always have to ask the police to remove this restriction. The conditions around this vary from force to force with many insisting on arbitrary minimum times from when you acquired the firearms (not permission to purchase them), and this is not a legal minimum. The police do not have the right to set a minimum time limit on when you can be granted the less restrictive condition and must consider your application. It is up to them whether they think you are suitable to be given this less restrictive condition though, so they would need an excuse like, you don’t use it enough (judged from ammunition quantities purchased).
The message in this article is to join BASC, and use their advice relating to firearms licensing. Do not ask the police, although you will have to apply for your FAC through them. When you have an issue with the police, BASC can advise you on how to deal with them, and if necessary deal with them on your behalf.