Changes to the Arms Act that GPs need to know about 

Earlier this year the Government updated the Arms Act. While much of the update covers the banning of certain firearms, there are changes coming into force on 24 December 2020 that will affect general practitioners.  

The changes are intended to prevent harm caused by the possession and use of firearms in the community.  

The changes require: 

  • Firearms licence applicants to provide details of their health practitioner to Police 
  • Police to notify the health practitioner when a licence has been issued 
  • Health practitioners to consider notifying Police if they have reason to believe their patient is a firearms licence holder and they have medical concerns regarding the safety of the patient or the public, through their access to, or use of, firearms. 

What GPs need to record about their patients who own a firearm 

From 24 December health practitioners will be told when someone who has named them as their GP has been granted a firearms licence. Police will start sending notifications to health practitioners via email or post from 24 December 2020. GPs will need to make a clearly visible note on their patient’s file about their firearms licence status. 

Police notifications will include the details of the firearms licence holder as well as information on the health practitioner’s obligations under the Arms Act. 

When GPs need to notify Police

Part of the legislation change is that GPs must consider notifying Police if they have a patient who they believe to be a firearms licence holder and their medical condition is such that in the interests of their, or other’s safety, the GP believes the licence holder should not be permitted to use or possess a firearm. 

There are three main ways to notify Police:  

  1. Online ( if there is no particular urgency 
  2. By phoning the non-emergency Police number, 105 
  3. By phoning 111 and asking for Police if the licence holder poses an immediate or imminent danger of self-harm or harm to others.