This is a good question and a very important issue. Clearly, the obvious and most appropriate person to assess any questions as to your suitability when you request a Medical Certificate for a Shotgun or Firearms Licence would ideally be your own general practitioner. However that person has refused to help, so you have come to an independent Doctor.
What is often not understood is the fact that it is not up to the doctor at all to provide any opinion regarding fitness or otherwise to hold a licence. That remains the ultimate responsibility of the police department to decide on the grant/refusal of any Shotgun and Firearms certificate. The role of the doctor is solely to provide information by way of a statement of fact to assist the police.
As it stands at the moment there is in fact no uniformity in the information that different Firearms Departments require. They all have their own autonomy. Although they require some common information there are clear regional variations in additional questions that the Dr must answer. That is why ShootCert needs to know which department is dealing with your application so we can answer the specific relevant questions for your area. For various reasons, these can only be submitted using the specific form for each department. Any variation to this will lead to inevitable delays.
The questions that appear common to all regions are that the Dr checks the medical records for any history of:-
- Acute stress reaction as a result or trauma
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harm
- Depression or Anxiety
- Mania, bipolar or Psychotic illness
- Personality disorder
- Severe Neurological impairment
- Alcohol or Drug Abuse
- Any other mental or physical condition of concern
- Terminal illness
The doctor ( GP or independent doctor) must scrutinise the applicant’s medical records for any history of these. These must be the entire records for a first-time application, but only the last 5–10 years (depending on the individual police department) for a renewal. We suggest renewal applicants request 10 years to be absolutely certain and avoid subsequent delays.
Shoot Cert is required to provide information from the notes that is pertinent to the above questions. Any comments made, if relevant, will be quotes from the documented notes. We, or indeed any other doctor, either your GP or other medical notes verification, are required to do this and have a legal obligation to do so. There is no alternative and we do not have any discretion in this. As already stated it is not up to us to provide any opinion as to your fitness to hold a licence and we do not do so. That decision lies entirely with the firearms apartment, and we are simply required to provide information from your medical notes as requested.
It is now easy to see that we need access to your entire notes to be able to do what is required. Our template GP letter, which we provide for you, explains that what they provide must be a full and complete copy of the notes, not just a summary. It must include all referral correspondence, copies of old record cards and also any text.
Computerised records systems mean that this process should be simple, rather than printing out what could be a lengthy set of records. However, some systems used by GP practices may only provide a summary. This is insufficient for our needs and if this is what you are offered you must ask for full access or alternatively a printed version.
We, nor any other independent doctor, simply cannot certify your notes without this. However, once we have the notes the rest is quite straightforward for you.
Guns are lethal weapons of course, and our systems to grant a licence must stand up to scrutiny, and comply with public safety rules. This way we will all be better equipped to protect our mutual interests.