Firearms branch update on firearms and component parts, including magazines
Message from Head of Branch, Jonathan Howarth
The past few months have been incredibly busy, not least from the additional efforts emanating from the nation-wide COVID restrictions but also the rapid implementation of new law /policies in preparation for BREXIT. Whilst trying to maintain operations, we have worked hard with our partners in DoJ and further afield, and internally with police colleagues to ensure NI complied with matters pertaining to the EU exit. It has meant change for us all.
In my early term, I can see there is a significant portion of FEB work that goes unseen related to answering queries, addressing complex cases and adapting to legal and operational changes. This is just one of many examples.
I appreciate the announcement pre-Christmas was novel and I want to take this opportunity to provide additional clarification having sought advice externally and internally from partners. We find ourselves in a place where we must comply and we have attempted to make this as issue-free as possible. However, all change presents challenges and concerns. That said, I believe our added clarifications will help and remote sales present some exciting opportunities for FAC holders, Dealers and Clubs especially in times of home quarantine.
I know as well as anyone that change is daunting, but this year onward I will be endeavouring to establish greater engagement right across the industry so that you are and feel part of FEB’s journey of improvements.
The following provides further information following the bulletin issued on 23rd December – “Applying for magazines and component parts”.
- From the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 a “component part” means
- any barrel, chamber or cylinder;
- any frame, action, body or receiver;
- any breech block, bolt or other mechanism for containing the pressure of discharge at the rear of the chamber;
- any part of a firearm which directly bears the pressure caused by firing; and
- any magazine
- A magazine is a component part under Article 2(2) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (the 2004 Order).
- Any “component part” is by definition a firearm under Art 2(2) of the 2004 Order
- All provisions which apply to firearms therefore apply to magazines under the 2004 Order.
- Why is this different in NI? The classification of a magazine as a component part is unique to Northern Ireland and specific to its security situation. In the last legislative review, this was raised and it was accepted to retain a magazine as a component part.
- Purchasing a magazine will require an application for a variation (£30) or re-grant with variation (£98). Transfers of firearms or ammunition within Northern Ireland must, in accordance with Article 39 of the 2004 Order, take place in person.
- However, in respect of magazines already in possession of FAC holders and not currently listed on their FAC, FEB do not require certificate holders to notify immediately as we are not conducting a retrospective exercise – we would request that magazines are notified at the next application (variation/re-grant). Therefore there is no immediate additional cost to FAC holders in respect of recording existing magazines held. All magazines authorised for use with each firearm will be listed separately on the FAC. Magazines will be listed separately but will read generically e.g. “9MM Magazine x 6 Glock 74284”.
- Magazines do not need to be serialised.
- This change complies with the Firearms (NI) Order 2004 and reflects recent EU Council Directive 91/477/EEC. The Firearms (NI) Order 2004 Article 8(1), reinforced by the EU Directive, states a firearm certificate shall describe each firearm to which it relates. As such, this change simply brings PSNI Firearms & Explosives Branch policy in line with what has always been required under the 2004 Order.
- A one-on/one-off variation is not required for a magazine only transaction.
- You may approach an NI Dealer and exchange for another functional magazine of same calibre, make and capacity. The transaction cost is between the FAC holder and Dealer. The Dealer will record the transaction and source of magazine received in their Acquisition page. This therefore negates the need for a Variation application by the FAC Holder as the FAC Holder maintains the authorised number of magazines for that firearm. A 30/50 is not required from the Firearms Dealer as there has been no change to holding.
- As per normal, there is no charge to remove a magazine from your FAC. This may be achieved via a Variation application to FEB, or the one-off facility at a Firearms Dealer. In this case, a 30/50 will be required from the Firearms Dealer as FEB will need to amend details in respect of the number of magazines possessed.
- “FEB authorised me for a Glock and four magazines but the dealer only sold me two at the time. I am awaiting the other two. Do I need a variation to buy and collect the remaining two?”
- No, in this case, the FAC authorised the FAC Holder for 4 magazines for that particular Glock.
ONLINE TRANSACTIONS (Remote Sales) – “APPLY BEFORE YOU BUY”
- There are no specific provisions prohibiting online purchases (remote sales) of firearms, component parts or ammunition but Article 3 of the 2004 Order makes it a statutory offence for those who
- have in their possession,
- who purchase or
- acquire firearms, component parts or ammunition without holding a FAC or otherwise than as authorised by a FAC.
- Article 39 (transfer of firearms and ammunition to be in person) of the 2004 Order applies to transactions which take place in Northern Ireland (NI). In other words, the firearm or ammunition is sold, let on hire or given by any person to another person in NI.
- For firearms or component parts, application should be made for a variation (£30) or Re-grant with Variation (£98).
- Therefore, “APPLY BEFORE YOU BUY”
- The 2004 Order does not prohibit Northern Ireland FAC holders from making online purchases of firearms or ammunition from outside of Northern Ireland – provided prior authorisation has been granted from FEB. In respect of ammunition, quantities possessed must always be within the limit authorised on the FAC.
- Transfer of firearms or ammunition within Northern Ireland must, in accordance with Article 39 of the 2004 Order, take place in person.
- The delivery of items from remote sales must remain in line with Article 37. Transfer of firearms requires verifying the authorisation held by the FAC Holder and using appropriately licensed couriers. The controlled item(s) must ultimately be received in person by the verified FAC Holder.
- In summary – “APPLY BEFORE YOU BUY”:
- NI dealer can sell online to NI FAC holder but transfer must be in line with Article 39, the transaction must be in person provided prior authorisation is obtained from FEB.
- NI FAC holder may purchase online from a seller outside Northern Ireland, provided prior authorisation is obtained from FEB.
- The transfer must be in line with Article 37 and DIT rules.
- In line with Article 37, only certain couriers in the UK are licenced to transfer firearms, component parts and ammunition, which must be received in person by the FAC Holder. Your RFD can advise further.
- NI dealers can sell online to FAC holders outside Northern Ireland where the buyer has authorisation to possess the item(s) requested. Again, the transfer must be in line with Article 37 and DIT rules.
ONLINE PURCHASES: IMPORTING FIREARMS
- Appendix 5 of the NIO Guidance on NI Firearms Controls provides information about import and export licence requirements for firearms and ammunition.
- Please note this Appendix has not been updated to reflect the fact that the UK is no longer part of the EU.
- Whilst the NIO guidance document refers to “DTI”, import licensing is now the responsibility of the DIT or Department for International Trade. It is the responsibility of FAC holders to ensure that personal imports of firearms, component parts and ammunition into NI are approved in advance by the licensing authority and comply with all DIT importation requirements.
- For further information on imports, refer to the DIT’s Notice to Importers 2942 issued on 31/12/12, – IMPORTS OF FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION IMPORT LICENSING ARRANGEMENTS 2020. This is an updated version as of 31/12/20, which supersedes Import Notice 2922. This notice, along with further information, is available on GOV.UK – click here to view.