29 July 2016 – The British Medical Association trade union is advising its members not to complete medical forms for firearm and shotgun applicants if shooters follow BASC advice and refuse to pay extra for this service.
The action, announced yesterday on the BMA website, could be seen as ‘action short of a strike’, in trade union lingo.
Doctors are told that the “change in our position on this issue may cause a number of GP’s [sic] to withdraw from participating in the process. You can read the brief summary below to inform you of what you need to do.”
The ‘in brief’ summary says: “We are now advising GPs to return the letter to the police without delay explaining they are unable to undertake the work due to a lack of funding or for a conscientious objection to gun ownership.”
It also warns non-compliant doctors not to ignore the police letter or delay their reply.
“Where there is a reasonable belief that an individual either applying for a firearm or shotgun license or already holding one, may represent a danger to themselves or others, we strongly advise doctors to encourage the applicant to reconsider or revoke their application,” concludes the BMA. Their full advice to doctors can be read on their website.
Problems and difficulties
There are numerous problems with medical involvement in the firearms licensing process. An unnamed doctor tried to blackmail a Countryside Alliance member into paying for an unnecessary medical report, even though the Home Office guidance on firearms licensing clearly states that no fee is payable for the standard “nothing to report” reply letter to the police when someone applies for a firearm or shotgun certificate.
The trade union’s stance seems, as ever, to be mainly focused on money, with the BMA advising doctors to co-operate fully with the system if their hapless patients cough up. There are no limits to the fee doctors can charge for a simple readout of someone’s medical records under these circumstances.
UK Shooting News’ author proposed a shooter-led vetting system for NHS GP surgeries last year, though nobody seems to have taken this up. The basic idea is to weed out antis and audit GP surgeries’ data security practices to ensure they do not reveal shooters’ home addresses – and thus the location of stored firearms – to unsuitable elements within the 3 million strong NHS workforce. Through a kitemarking system, a network of trusted and approved GPs could be established, ensuring shooters are not discriminated against for enjoying the shooting sports.
UKSN also proposes the police trade in medical data is brought within the Access to Medical Reports Act, so shooters can monitor their doctors’ opinions and challenge inaccurate, false or politically-motivated information handed to the police by doctors who disagree with the shooting sports.
One cannot apply for or renew a firearm or shotgun certificate without being registered with an NHS GP, for some bizarre (and unknown) reason. This was sneaked into the Home Office guidance last year during the blizzard of police rewrites, authorising themselves to have greater and more intrusive powers against law-abiding members of the licensed firearms community without Parliament legislating to permit this.