FROM THE DIRECTOR
As I write, the Country is caught up in post Election fever and it is difficult to concentrate on matters that relate purely to us, the gun trade, when so much is going on around us.
Nonetheless things are moving, both in Europe and here in the UK. I will not dwell on the awful events in Manchester and London other than to say that we are fortunate to have such dedicated personnel in the police, the emergency services and the intelligence agencies. They serve us so well and deserve our thanks and our support. Within a very short time after the bombing we had received advice and guidance for our membership from a number of agencies and we know how to react should more threats emerge.
In essence, vigilance is key and paramount. Keep your premises secure, be alert to unusual requests for firearms, keep a watchful eye open to make sure that you are not compromised on your route to, or from, your shop or workshop, keep notes of prospective customers who are reticent to provide Certificates or other proof of authority to possess. In reality these atrocities are extremely rare but we have an industry to protect and we also need to be aware of possible risks to public safety.
EU Firearms Directive
Moving on, the new EU Firearms Directive, 2017/853, was signed off in Strasbourg on 17th May 2017 and will come into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. From its publication we, as a Member State, have a number of obligations. Within two months we have to address the issues surrounding de-activated firearms and within 15 months we are obliged to transpose the Regulations into national legislation. However…… the Brexit word springs to mind…..We have no idea what the UK will do in respect of this Directive and until the two years after Article 50 was invoked in March this year, we should not/cannot speculate.
The Directive addresses such issues as definitions of firearms, component parts, de-activated firearms, controls on magazines, data filing systems, dealers records, collectors, target shooters, medical information, controls on some semi-automatic firearms, marking, imitation firearms (‘replicas’), acoustic weapons, blank firers and alarm guns. Click HERE to download a copy of the Directive.
Home Office Consultation on fees
On the question of the Home Office Consultation on fees, especially Section 5 Authorities. I, along with colleagues, met with Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP,(A great supporter of the shooting world), on the 19th April at Portcullis House with an appointment to meet with the Home Office Minister, Brandon Lewis, to discuss the Consultation.
We duly met in the Minister’s office but, because this was the day that Parliament chose to vote on whether to hold a General Election, the Minister was whisked away to the Chamber and the meeting is to be re-scheduled after the Election. However, we were gratified to learn that the Minister: ‘wanted fees to be set at a level which would not put clubs or RFDs out of business’. We hope for a meeting around July before the new Parliament goes into Summer Recess. Until then the fees issue will be on hold.
The Policing & Crime Act 2017
The Policing & Crime Act 2017 has now, for the most part, come into force and our particular issues around ammunition are resolved.
At our most recent Council meeting the Chairman reminded members that: “This was probably the GTA’s greatest victory in recent years and the main purpose of the change to Primary Legislation was about easing transport restrictions”.
Section 129 of the Act will significantly reduce costs for members and logistical complications for the carrier. The intent for the changes to Section 5 expanding ammunition was always that of re-categorising that ammunition to Section 1 to alleviate the draconian charges imposed by Section 5 carriers and revert the transport to that controlled as ‘dangerous goods’. Click HERE to download a copy of Section 129.
In answer to queries as to the meaning of ‘designed to be used with a pistol’ within the context of the Act , the Secretariat has responded: “It is understood that any expanding ammunition which can only be used in a pistol remains Section 5. Any expanding ammunition which is, or has evolved to be, used in a longarm (‘dual use’), becomes, from May 2nd , Section 1”.
It is further understood that the intention of the Act is that dual-use expanding projectiles, from May 2nd, are not controlled by the Firearms Acts and may be transported in exactly the same manner as non-expanding projectiles. Expanding projectiles ‘designed for use in pistols’ remain controlled by Section 5.
The final issues in the Act, such as antiques, fees and the like will be dealt with by a new Government after the Election.
We continue to liaise very closely with our transport partners and are happy to promote the services of both Parcelforce and Circle Express. Parcelforce move everything we need, except ammunition and Section 5, and Circle Express move the dangerous goods and we meet with both companies on a regular basis to support the membership. We are currently looking for changes now that Section 129 of the Policing & Crime Act has come into force and we will keep you posted as, and when, we have news.
Game Fair Season
The weather is getting warmer and Game Fair Season is approaching. I shall, as usual, be at Scone on 30th June and the 1st and 2nd of July. I shall also be visiting the Game Fair at Hatfield House. This will be my 34th Game Fair and the time has come to think about the future.
By October this year I shall have been at the GTA for 18 years. Much has happened and much has changed during that time and it is time for me to move on. Although the years have been kind to me I think that to hang on to a post for too long is a mistake. I will therefore be retiring from the day to day responsibility of managing the GTA and we will be recruiting my successor over the next few months. Click here to view the job advertisement.
After I retire at AGM in 2018 the GTA Council have decided to keep me, for a while, as a Consultant to the Association, so I may aid the Director at least for his first year. After that I shall be looking to fish and shoot, and hopefully not drive my family insane by hanging around the house.
I look forward to seeing many of you at Hatfield House or the Midland.