The process for obtaining a firearm license in the United Kingdom is even harder and more invasive than it used to be. Last October, the Tory government issued new “statutory guidance” relating to firearm licensing and announced that “No one will be given a firearms license unless the police have reviewed information from a registered doctor setting out whether or not the applicant has any relevant medical history…” Extending beyond a medical veto on firearms licenses, the UK Home Office also announced guidance encouraging law enforcement to delve into an applicant’s social media and financial history when making license determinations.
Under existing UK law, a subject may not possess, purchase, or acquire a shotgun or rifle without a shotgun or firearm certificate/license. The already onerous application process requires an applicant to: divulge sensitive personal information, including medical data and contact information for the applicant’s general practitioner (GP); detail their firearm storage arrangements, which are subject to warrantless inspection; provide justification for possessing a shotgun or rifle; and furnish two character references.
The new Home Office rules go a great deal further, requiring a GP to sign off on a firearm license application.
Dismissing civil liberties concerns, the Home Office adopted the collectivist view that “Doctors owe a duty of confidentiality to their patients, but they also have a wider duty to protect and promote the health of… the public.”
The new rules also encourage law enforcement to conduct other invasive checks on applicants; calling for for licensing authorities to examine “information obtained from open source social media,” and for police to conduct “credit or other financial checks” as part of the firearm licensing process.
The deputy chair of the British Medical Association GP committee England stated that he was “pleased” and “delighted” by the rules change, also noting, “As doctors we support the government’s overall message – that gun ownership is a privilege and not a right…”
The right to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and is not dependent upon government for its existence. As a natural right, it is inherent to all people regardless of political interference. A government may infringe upon this right, but it cannot extinguish it.
As is so often the case, this latest UK infringement offers an important lesson for U.S. gun owners. While announcing the new rules, Home Secretary Priti Patel noted, “The UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in world, but we must never become complacent about these high standards.” Once again, gun control supporters have made clear that no amount of gun restrictions will satisfy them - short of total civilian disarmament.