Jacking up firearms fees will cost SMEs £3.5 MILLION. Thanks, Plod

Plus Op Solitaire update: It's not as bad as we thought

Downrange The Home Office has admitted that police plans to force a 76 per cent hike in the cost of a firearm certificate will cost firearms dealers alone £700,000, with gamekeepers and vets being smacked with a further £2.8m in government-imposed fees.

A consultation on the proposed increase in firearms fees, issued earlier this week, reveals the cost to businesses of the police campaign to jack up the fees payable for a firearm or shotgun certificate.

“Based on the assumption that there will be 714 grants and 938 renewals each year and an increase in the fee of £50, there will be an annual cost of £80,000 to registered firearms dealers (RFDs),” notes the Home Office consultation document (available on the gov.uk website: PDF, 35 pages). “This is a total cost of £0.7m over 10 years in present values.

The document goes on to note that gamekeepers and farmers will be hit with additional costs of £280,000 a year as a result of the fee hike.Vets and zookeepers will also be coughing up an extra £7,000 per annum.

“There might be an indirect impact on business as the fee increase might deter the purchase of new or additional firearms from RFDs,” the document's author jauntily notes. “Firearm licences and the purchase of firearms are complements so if the price of a firearm licence goes up the number of guns purchased might fall.”

At this point it's important to note that firearm certificate (FAC) and shotgun certificate (SGC) fees do not offer shooters anything other than the ability to purchase a firearm or a shotgun, unlike angling licenses where the fee revenue goes towards maintaining rivers and so on. You don't get ranges or shooting grounds provided for you with your FAC or SGC; you're on your own.

“There are many reasonable arguments as to what level of fee should be charged in order for the police to manage public safety issues appropriately and to deliver a satisfactory service to licence holders,” said Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who took over from Norman “conspiracy theory” Baker as minister for crime prevention last month after the latter resigned in a fit of pique over drug policy.

While the Home Office document does point out that a planned reduction in FAC variation fees will save businesses about £5,000 per year, this doesn't offset the impact of the fee hike by any meaningful level.

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