An extract from chapter 6

Thomas Hamilton's possession of firearms and ammunition

6.36   I agree with Mr Taylor that para 6.8(e) of the Guidance to the Police does not make "good reason" depend on past use. I agree that it looks to the future. However, it does not follow that para 6.8(e) should be read as if it set out the "regular and legitimate opportunity" as the sole test. There is room for the view that it should be regarded as setting out an essential condition. It may be maintained that inherent in an applicant having "good reason" is that he had an intention to use or, as the case may be, to purchase or acquire for use. If he has not used a firearm which he was previously given the authority to possess, this may cast doubt on his intention; or there may be a good explanation for it which removes the doubt. If he is able to point to past use it would be a simple and effective way of showing good reason. The same doubt could arise in the case of an authorisation to acquire a firearm which has not been used. It may be noted that para 6.21 of the Guidance to the Police, which is concerned with conditions which the chief officer of police may attach to a firearm certificate, ends with the words: "Conditions setting out arbitrary time limits for acquiring firearms and for ammunition should not be imposed. However, the chief officer may at the time of certificate renewal, enquire why an authorised acquisition has not been completed and consider the renewal in the light of the information received". It may be thought that it is not in the public interest that unused authority should continue on the mere say-so of the applicant, with the risk that acquisition might eventually be made in circumstances very different from those originally envisaged.

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Prepared 16 October 1996