The National Museum of the Royal Navy

Firearms proposals trigger museum responses

Simon Stephens, 08.03.2017
Home Office proposing six-fold increase in cost of museum firearms licence
Museums could be hit with a steep rise in charges for holding firearms in their collections, following recent government proposals.

A consultation, which closes on 9 March, is calling for views on the implementation of new fees for firearms licences issued by the Home Office and Scottish government. The measures will apply to England, Wales and Scotland.

A briefing document from the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) says: “It is proposed the fee for a museum firearms licence will be £1,440, and the licence will be valid for five years. The current fee for a museum licence is £200. The renewal fee is to be revised to £1,240, with fees for alterations to valid licences to be changed to between £110 and £780.”

The NMDC document continues: “For a small museum, the implication of a c.600% increase in the fee cost is potentially damaging. This will represent a significant proportion of their annual collections management budget.”

The NMDC briefing paper also points out that one outcome of the increased costs could be that small non-national museums will not be able to afford to maintain firearms in their collection and may seek to either dispose of them or transfer them to a larger institution where the local context may be lost. It also says that smaller museums with no firearms in their collection may decide not to acquire culturally significant items in the future.

“We will be taking part in the consultation because we could be faced with a six-fold increase in our licensing fees, as well as being exposed to additional costs for making adjustments to the license,” says Christopher Gale, the collections team manager at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which operates across the UK.

“As museums, we are bound to provide as much access for research purposes to interested parties,” Gale said. “Therefore, it seems fair that the taxpayer would cover part of this cost for this public service.

"It is highly likely that fees in this area for museums will increase, so I would urge all those museums which might be affected to respond to the consultation before it ends in March, and also to push for these fees to be brought into a more reasonable level with some taxpayer input.”


Firearms consultation


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10.03.2017, 19:28
Just reading the introduction of the consultation document shows the illogical thought processes of central government. The document says: "the costs of the firearms licensing regime should properly be attributed to the organisations benefiting from the licence, and not the taxpayer. Charging in this way ensures the real economic cost of safeguarding high risk activities is understood by licence holders."

Sorry, Man/Woman in Whitehall, the beneficiaries of the firearm licensing regime aren't just the licence holders but also the general population. We agree to controls on who can have a firearms licence, with the checks and controls that involves, in order to avoid another Hungerford or Dunblane. So the cost of this regime should also be borne by the general taxpayer.

The sentence in the introduction:"The proposed fees aim to recover in full the cost to the taxpayer, so that the licence holder pays for the cost of the service." is even more laughable. How does getting numerous references, paying a large fee, having the police question you, your motives and your sanity, officials checking your property equate to a service to the firearm license holder. It is a service to society at large. Surely license holders and taxpayers should both contribute, and let's not forget - license holders probably pay tax as well.