CAI respond to DOJ review of the number of firearms an RFD can hold
Outlined in our response to the Department of Justice survey, is that the number of firearms a dealer can hold should be dependent on the security arrangements of the dealer and their ability to store the firearms safely.
Currently we only have two categories of Registered Firearms Dealer (RFDs) in Northern Ireland. Under these categories a dealer is restricted to the number of certain types of firearm that can be in their possession at any one time, this includes firearms that are for sale, sold, repair and safe keeping.
We highlighted that the PSNI do not store firearms for safe keeping nor will they do so when someone has sadly passed away, instead they refer people to local RFDs to store the firearms during these periods. This has a direct impact on dealers as the PSNI expect RFDs to hold these firearms but give no allowance against their holdings for the safekeeping and storage of such firearms. They then issue RFDs warnings, should they be caught being over their numbers during FEB inspections, and in at least one case closure occurred.
With long delays within FEB we referred to a first hand account from an RFD who was having to keep firearms with other RFDs in an attempt to stay within his numbers, the extra costs incurred doing this was making it difficult to continue to trade and make a living.
For too long these restrictions have put RFDs in Northern Ireland on a back foot and denied them the same opportunities as their UK counterparts, that’s despite having to comply with higher security arrangements and practices. We only have to look across the water where one dealer in the UK had, on the day we checked, 1209 rifles for sale and 40 second hand rifles in stock, and this does not including other rifles being held for other reasons.
They must also take into account Brexit, with additional import/export and shipping paperwork to be completed, suppliers from both the EU and GB will no longer wish to send firearms individually, opting for bulk deliveries, making managing their numbers more difficult especially when firearms that were on backorder turn up unannounced.
Short term help
CAI appreciate any changes may take some time but in the short term we called on the DOJ to help dealers by allowing firearms being held for safekeeping not to count towards their overall holdings. This would be a small but very positive step to help the dealers.
CAI do welcome the review and we will continue to engage with, not only the DOJ, but all other stakeholders to help RFDs in Northern Ireland trade more freely and provide more choice to their customers.