Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library

Northern Ireland. 2005 ‘Good Reason to Possess a Firearm.’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005; Sections 1-6, 64-65 (Appendix 3), pp. 83-95. Belfast: Northern Ireland Assembly. 1 February

Relevant contents

Good Reason to Possess a Firearm

1. This Appendix sets out -

- the issues that the Chief Constable will wish to consider in assessing "good reason" in individual cases as he is required to do by Articles 5, 9 and 11; and
- advice on the more common good reasons that the Chief Constable would accept for the possession of particular firearms and ammunition.

2. Under Article 5 (2)(b) the Chief Constable may grant a firearm certificate if he is satisfied that the applicant has a good reason for having in his possession, or for purchasing or acquiring, the firearm or ammunition in respect of which the application is made. Apart from assessing fitness to possess firearms, good reason is one of the most substantial and complex areas of discretion that the Chief Constable has in licensing firearms.

3. This guidance is not exhaustive and the Chief Constable may encounter cases not covered here but where he may properly judge that good reason is proven. He must judge each case on its own merits, being mindful of the need for consistent administration of the Order, the need to provide fair and equitable treatment to all applicants and the wider interests of public safety.

4. Apart from having a good reason in principle, an applicant's reasons for owning firearms should be genuine and substantial. The Chief Constable should exercise caution in dealing with cases where the applicant presents a nominal reason for possessing firearms but may have ulterior motives. The police will make reasonable inquiries to verify the applicant's good reason for the possession of firearms. This may include verification of the likelihood of the quarry species being present; the suitability of land for the firearms requested commensurate with the applicant's experience; his authority to shoot on the land; and, in the case of target shooters, verification of club membership and shooting activities.

5. The acquisition of a firearm certificate, with the attendant privileges and responsibilities, should generally involve a genuine intent to acquire the firearm concerned and to use it regularly. Failure to do either (but see paragraphs 47 to 53 and 58 to 60 of this Appendix on firearms of historical importance, collections and trophies of war) may be cause for further inquiry as to the applicant's intention.

6. Good reason should be neither confined to need nor equated with desire. Most firearm certificate holders possess firearms for reasons of their occupation, sport or recreation and may properly wish to exercise discretion as to what types of firearms they choose for these purposes. On the other hand, a simple wish to own a particular sort of firearm is not in itself good reason without further supporting evidence of intention. The Chief Constable should be mindful of case law (Anderson v Neilans (1940) and Joy v Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway (1966)) which suggests that he should consider the application firstly "from the standpoint of the applicant rather than from that of a possible objector". Good reason will need to be demonstrated for each firearm sought and for their continued possession…

Quarry shooting, including shooting pest species and other shooting over land…
Shooting small quarry species, including game and pests…
Foxes…
Deer…
Overseas use…
Humane Killing of Animals…
Slaughtering…
Target shooting…
Collection of firearms…
Trophies of War…
Signalling apparatus…
Controlling Races…
Historical re-enactment…
Theatre cinema and television…
Treating animals…
Component parts…
Sound moderators…
Personal protection weapons

64. The Chief Constable considers that generally it is not in the wider interests of public safety for members of the public to have firearms for personal protection. However, in the prevailing circumstances in Northern Ireland where people's lives can be at particular risk from terrorists, he is prepared to make an exception to this general rule.

In considering whether an applicant has a good reason for a firearm certificate for a personal protection weapon (normally a handgun) the Chief Constable must be satisfied that there is a real and immediate risk to his life from terrorists. In making that determination the Chief Constable will normally consider whether the person is at specific risk or occupational risk.

Specific Risk

This is where a recent and verifiable attack has been made on the applicant's life and he remains at that level of risk; or

There has been a personal threat to the applicant's life, which the police can substantiate. In exceptional circumstances the police may rely on other sources of information.

Occupational Risk

This is where a person, who is currently working, or within the last 6 months has worked, in certain occupations (eg police, prison officers, judiciary) and may be deemed to be subject to a real and immediate risk to his life despite there being no specific intelligence of it.

65. The Chief Constable will also consider whether alternative personal security measures are available to the applicant that would obviate or reduce the risk to and provide adequate protection for him, including application for admission to the Key Persons Protection Scheme (KPPS), Special Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED) Scheme etc.

ID: Q6852

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