Possession and the law

If you are aged 17 or over, you can buy and possess – without a Fire Arm Certificate – an air rifle (powered by air or CO2 with a maximum power limit of 12 foot pounds) or an air pistol (with a maximum power limit of 6 foot pounds).

You can also buy and possess an antique firearm as a 'curio or ornament' to cherish and admire, but if you want to shoot your antique, you will need the same sort of certificate as for a modern firearm.

 If you wish to possess a cartridge rifle, or a modern muzzle loading rifle or muzzle loading pistol, or certain types of shotgun (for instance with a large magazine capacity), or 'specially dangerous' air weapons you will need to apply at your local police station for a Fire Arm Certificate.

For a conventional shotgun (single barrelled, multi-barrelled or a three shot repeating shotgun), you will need to apply at your local police station for a Shot Gun Certificate (SGC).

Getting a Shot Gun Certificate

The law does not absolutely require you to provide a 'good reason', but if you are already a member of a clay pigeon shooting club or you can demonstrate that you have opportunity to use a shotgun, then this can only assist your application.

You will have to provide adequate security for your shotgun. Most people buy a steel gun cabinet or gun safe.

Once you have your SGC, you may use your shotgun for any lawful purpose without further reference to the police, so having started out as a clay pigeon shooter, you can still accept an invitation to go pheasant shooting. You may also acquire additional shotguns without prior police permission (but both you and the vendor will have to inform your police licensing authority of each purchase, and you will have to advise of any disposals also). Similarly, you may also borrow a shotgun.

Getting a Fire Arm Certificate

You will need to demonstrate 'good reason'.

Good reason does not equate with need, but neither is a passing whim good enough. Acceptable good reasons would include target shooting, deer stalking, vermin destruction or collecting, but you would need to provide evidence to support your good reason.

For target shooting, you would need to be a full member of a Home Office Approved rifle or muzzle loading pistol club, having served a probationary period of several months during which you would receive mandatory safety and shooting instruction, when first you join such a club (there are exceptions for people who have been trained by the military or police).

For quarry shooting, you would need to show that you have a safe area of land on which to shoot your rifle (the police will have it assessed).

If you wish to collect firearms requiring a Fire Arm Certificate, you would have to demonstrate real knowledge of your area of interest, and it would help to be a member of a collectors' organisation. Again you would have to provide security in keeping with the number and type of firearms that you wish to possess. This may go beyond a simple gun cabinet and involve the sort of enhanced security already routinely required by insurance companies for household contents insurance (five lever deadlocks, window locks, etc.) and perhaps an alarm system.

You can only use your firearm for the good reason stated on your FAC, so if you decide that you wish to use your deerstalking rifle for target shooting, you would need to apply for a 'variation' to your FAC. You also have to apply for a variation for each additional firearm that you wish to acquire.

No criminals

Safety is paramount. People with serious criminal convictions are prohibited from possessing firearms, not surprisingly, and the police will consider an applicant's mental health, any history of alcohol or substance abuse, and any aspect of physical health that might affect an applicant's safe handling of firearms, for instance epilepsy. Changes in the law in 1988 and 1997 encourage a high standard of due diligence on the part of the police.

There are no comments yet - add yours below

This helps to discourage spam