It is expected that the Justice (No. 2) Bill 2016 will be granted Royal Assent around mid to late May 2016. Following Royal Assent, this will mean that changes to the Firearms (NI) Order 2004 will be immediately introduced.
As such, the Department of Justice held two information sessions in Cookstown last week to discuss these changes with firearms dealers and the Northern Ireland Firearms Forum (NIFF), including representatives from Countryside Alliance Ireland (CAI), the Gun Trade Guild NI and BASC NI.
Each session covered Young Shots; The Banded System; Authorised Clay Clubs; Certificates of Approval for GB Firearms Certificate Holders and Revised Fees.
Whilst CAI welcome the changes in relation to Young Shots, we believe the legislation does not go far enough and we will continue our campaign to allow young people in NI the same opportunity to shoot as those in the rest of the UK.
Firearms dealers were on the whole pleased with the proposed new banded system for rifles which allows a FAC holder to exchange a rifle for a similar one under certain conditions. This in effect means that a FAC holder, who complies with the conditions within the guidelines, could purchase a new firearm and leave with it that day. The fee for these transactions will be prepaid electronically and the FAC holder will receive a transaction ID which the firearm dealer will quote on the paperwork to be returned to FEB.
Authorised Clay Clubs – the process of authorisation will mirror that of bullet firing clubs. Only those clubs who wish to permit young people aged 12 up to the age of 16 to shoot need to be authorised. Other clubs are unaffected.
Recognition of GB FACs for visitors to Northern Ireland. A certificate of approval is only required now for GB visitor with a lower powered airgun which is below the GB threshold but over the NI limit of 1 Joule.
The Revised Fees came into effect on 22 February 2016 and the full list may be accessed on the PSNI website.
CAI is an active member of the NIFF and we will continue to engage and represent our members’ interests. There is still much work to be done and although slow, we are pleased that progress is being made. This has not been without compromise by all parties.
As always, we will keep you fully updated with any developments.