Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

UK Government Report Urges More Warrantless Searches, Less Doctor-Patient Confidentiality

Friday, September 25, 2015

UK Government Report Urges More Warrantless Searches, Less Doctor-Patient Confidentiality

Despite having one of the world’s strictest gun control regimes, the UK’s gun control advocates and their supportive bureaucrats aren’t resting on their laurels. UK’s subjects can rest-assured that their country’s gun controllers will not abate until every last English double shotgun and bolt-action rifle is pried from civilian hands.

The latest action against UK gun owners comes in the form of a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). The agency purports that it “independently assesses police forces and policing… in the public interest.” The report, titled, “Targeting the risk: An inspection of the efficiency and effectiveness of firearms licensing in police forces in England and Wales,” takes issue with the implementation of the UK’s current firearm licensing regime at the local level, and recommends that the Home Office adopt more stringent guidance on how the scheme should be carried out by local authorities; to the further detriment of lawful gun owners.

The report’s authors claim that their concern is with “design[ing] better processes, properly supported in law, that allow for uncompromising rigour and consistent application, which enable the public to have confidence that the police are properly carrying out their licensing responsibilities by targeting the risk that possession of any firearm carries.” Noticeably absent from this passage is any real concern for the rights of the UK’s gun owners.

Much like the fear-mongering gun control advocates stateside, HMIC raises the specter of potential future tragedies if their recommendations are not heeded. The report notes, “[w]hat is highly likely is that, if change is not effected, there will be another tragedy.” The government official that led the production of the report, Stephen Otter, added in an accompanying press release, “[l]essons from past tragedies have not always been learnt and this fails the victims of those events, including their families, unacceptably. Unless things change, we run the risk of further tragedies occurring.” UK media outlets were quick to use this assertion for their own sensationalist purposes. Chief Executive of the National Rifle Association of the UK, Andrew Mercer, properly labelled the report “alarmist.

The report contains several areas of concern to gun owners. For instance, HMIC advocates that police be given more stringent guidance on when it is appropriate to revoke firearm and shotgun certificates for “irresponsible or anti-social” behavior.  Being the UK, one can only wonder how this vague standard would be applied.

According to HMIC, the report’s recommendations “will help forces to adopt a more robust approach than might have been the case previously in order to err on the side of public safety.” This is a polite way of saying that the guidance sought will likely increase the range of behaviors deemed worthy to justify revocation, diminish what little remaining deference the rights of certificate-holders might have enjoyed, and give greater deference to “err,” as in make mistakes, “on the side of public safety.”

The report also suggests further embedding the licensing authorities into the doctor-patient relationship. The UK’s Form 201 application for a firearm or shotgun certificate already asks the applicant to provide personal medical information along with the name, address, and telephone number of their general practitioner (GP). Applicants are also asked to sign a waiver giving the police permission to contact their doctor and acknowledging that the GP “may share sensitive personal data with the police concerning my physical & mental health.”

HMIC laments that “GPs are not obliged to respond to any police request for information about a potential firearms certificate holder. Nor is there any obligation on the GP to note the fact that his or her patient is a firearm certificate holder which may prompt notification of any medical condition that subsequently arises.” HMIC recommends, “[a]t the very least the system should not allow licensing to take place without a current medical report from the applicant's GP, supported by a process whereby GPs are required, during the currency of a certificate, to notify the police of any changes to the medical circumstances (including mental health) of the certificate holder.” According to the report’s authors, a system where your doctor is not ordered to perpetually scrutinize your suitability for firearm ownership is “not acceptable.”

HMIC also takes issue with how licensing authorities conduct home inspections. In the UK, licensing authorities conduct home visits to inspect a firearm or shotgun certificate applicant’s storage arrangements. More recently, the Home Office outlined rules allowing for police to conduct unannounced home visits of certificate holders when presented with “intelligence” regarding the unsafe storage of a firearm.

Even though the report makes clear that all local authorities surveyed do conduct home inspections for new certificate applicants, HMIC noted concerns about the thoroughness of inspections made upon an applicant’s initial application or renewal. The report states, “[s]ome reported that the police undertook a thorough examination of the site where the firearm was to be housed, which involved shaking cabinets to see if they were robust and if they could be forcibly removed from the wall to which they were secured; others reported that the physical checks were more cursory.” Seemingly in favor of police manhandling the private property of certificate applicants, HMIC recommends that the Home Office give specific guidance as to “how [the visits] should be conducted.”

Of further concern to HMIC is that police are not adequately exercising their power to conduct surprise home inspections. In the report, HMIC complains that with unannounced home visits, “[i]t would appear… that the police require the consent of the householder to enter the premises, even where they have intelligence that there may be a concern about the security of a firearm. The absence of a specific legal right of entry means that the police may not be able to carry out their responsibilities on every occasion that they attempt an unannounced visit, if the householder refuses entry.” 

The report goes on to state that “[t]his potential impasse is not in the best interests of the public,” and recommends, “[i]t should be made explicit that the police are required to undertake an unannounced visit where they have the required intelligence that justifies such a course of action. Where this is the case, the police should have a right of access to the firearm, ammunition and the site where they are stored.” This proposal to grant police broad authority to conduct home searches without a warrant should trouble all privacy and civil liberties advocates, regardless of their position on firearm ownership.

It is yet unclear the extent to which the Home Office will adopt the recommendations set out in the HMIC report. However, aside from evoking sympathy on behalf of the UK’s gun-owning subjects, this episode should serve as yet another stark warning to American gun owners. No matter how stringent a firearm registration and licensing scheme may be, or how many types of firearms a government may ban, anti-gun zealots will always find reason to impose ever more increasing levels of restrictions. The truth is, as long as some citizens have access to firearms, gun control advocates will remain devoted to stripping what’s left of a population’s gun rights from the remaining few enjoying them. 

TRENDING NOW
National Reciprocity Bill Nears Goal Line in the House but Needs Your Support to Reach the End Zone

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, September 15, 2017

National Reciprocity Bill Nears Goal Line in the House but Needs Your Support to Reach the End Zone

Gun owners received good news this week with the passage of the SHARE Act by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources (see related story). Meanwhile, progress continued to be made on another NRA legislative ...

Urban Myth: Crime Doesn’t Pay – California City Authorizes Stipends to Gang Members

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Urban Myth: Crime Doesn’t Pay – California City Authorizes Stipends to Gang Members

In a special meeting on August 29, the nine-member City Council of Sacramento unanimously agreed to allocate $1.5 million in funding and to move forward with a “gun-violence reduction strategy” that will include cash payments ...

California Legislature Adjourns the 2017 Legislative Session

Saturday, September 16, 2017

California Legislature Adjourns the 2017 Legislative Session

Last night, the California Legislature adjourned the 2017 session.  Three anti-gun bills, AB 7, AB 424 and SB 464, passed the Legislature and will now be considered by Governor Brown.  Contact Governor Brown and urge him ...

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin

Hunting  

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin

As we have reported, this year’s version of the SHARE Act is the most expansive and far-reaching yet. Besides previously-introduced provisions aimed at enhancing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and shooting and broadening access to federal lands ...

NRA Backed SHARE Act Passes Committee

News  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NRA Backed SHARE Act Passes Committee

“Today marks an important step in protecting the Second Amendment freedoms of America’s hunters and sportsmen and strengthening our outdoor heritage,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The SHARE Act will cut burdensome red tape that restricts ...

Washington Post’s Resident Anti-Gun Zealot Parades his Ignorance in SHARE Act Column

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Washington Post’s Resident Anti-Gun Zealot Parades his Ignorance in SHARE Act Column

Dana Milbank is not a serious journalist. A former White House correspondent for the Washington Post, Milbank now writes what can be characterized as a humor column for the paper.

NRA Applauds Reintroduction and Expansion of SHARE Act

News  

Hunting  

Friday, September 8, 2017

NRA Applauds Reintroduction and Expansion of SHARE Act

On Sept. 1, U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan introduced H.R. 3668, the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), a wide-ranging package of legislation aimed at promoting Second Amendment rights and America’s outdoor sporting traditions.

“What Happened”: Clinton Recognizes NRA’s Power, Rewrites History, and Urges Dems to Double-down on Gun Control

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

“What Happened”: Clinton Recognizes NRA’s Power, Rewrites History, and Urges Dems to Double-down on Gun Control

This week, twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released her new book, “What Happened,” which chiefly serves to assign blame to the myriad politicians, journalists, organizations, countries, prejudices, and technologies she claims caused her defeat. Gun ...

Wisconsin: Important Concealed Carry Legislation Scheduled for Committee Vote This Week

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wisconsin: Important Concealed Carry Legislation Scheduled for Committee Vote This Week

This Tuesday, September 19, Senate Bill 169 is scheduled for a vote during the executive session in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  SB 169 would allow for the concealed carry of a firearm without a concealed carry license ...

Bloomberg Spending Millions To Elect Anti-Gun Virginia Governor

News  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bloomberg Spending Millions To Elect Anti-Gun Virginia Governor

Billionaire anti-gunner Michael Bloomberg is at it again, pledging to spend $1 million through his gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety in an attempt to impact Virginia’s upcoming elections for governor and attorney general.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.