While the majority of airguns in the UK are exempt from licensing, those air rifles which are capable of exceeding 12ft/lb muzzle energy are classed under Section 1 of the 1968 Firearms Act. As such, they require a firearms certificate (FAC).
The cost of firearms licensing has remained unchanged since 2001, but at the end of November, the Home Office announced plans to increase them in 2015, most likely in May. For shooters with FAC-rated air rifles, the proposed increases are:
- New application – current £50 fee to increase to £88
- Renewal – current £40 fee to increase to £62
Licensing fees are governed by the Firearms Act, and they are administered by the police forces in England, Wales and Scotland. In the UK, where a fee is charged for a licence (or service), it is required that the amount should reflect the full cost of the activity involved in its delivery. This is clearly stated in a Government-wide guidance document called Managing Public Money, the intention of which is to ensure that the government neither profits at the expense of consumers, nor makes a loss for taxpayers to subsidise.
Following the announcement of the increase to fees, the government is running a consultation (from 27 November until 29 December 2014) in which shooters and shooting organisations can have their say. While most of the well-known shooting organisations will be involved in any negotiations, it is essential that this is not left to them alone; shooters should also exercise their right to be involved in the consultation.
And to take part in the consultation, the online survey can be found here.