A new piece of gun law passed at the end of March before Parliament dissolved for May’s General Election has now come into force.
The Firearms Regulations 2015, laid before Parliament on 25th March, came into force on 16th April. Its major effect is to bring into force the latest EU firearms diktat, which says that EU states must have a computerised system that records all movements of civilian firearms and retains those records for 20 years.
Previous dithering by the Home Office on this point caused registered firearms dealers (RFDs) many worries. Civil servants announced that the burden of compliance with that EU directive would fall on individual RFDs, meaning that existing paper registers would have to be replaced by a computerised system paid for by each individual RFD and capable of saving transaction records for 20 years. This was despite the wording of the directive being clear that the keeping of records was intended to be done by the State and not by individuals.
Presumably someone had a word with the Home Office because, days before the directive was due to come into force, it made a U-turn and announced that the National Firearms Licensing Management System would be used to record all firearms transactions, instead of forcing RFDs to make and keep the records. While this came as a relief for RFDs, many had already invested in IT systems capable of complying with the diktat.
Under the Firearms Regulations 2015, RFDs in Northern Ireland are now under an explicit duty to report transactions to the PSNI within 72 hours. It is now an offence not to do so.