Shot gun applications
Travelling with Firearms
Frequently Asked Questions
The use of airguns by young people is heavily regulated...
• It is an offence for anyone to fire an air pellet beyond the premises where they have permission to shoot.
• Young people under 14 may not use an airgun unless they are supervised by someone over 21.
• Young people between 14 -17 years of age may not buy or hire an airgun or ammunition or receive one as a gift. A person within this age group may not carry an airgun in a public place at any time unless supervised by a person of or over 21 years and then only with a good reason for doing so.
• Nobody under 18 years may buy an airgun or its ammunition.
New legislation has been introduced by the Government which will make it an offence to fail to properly secure airguns in order to prevent them falling into the hands of children. From 10th February 2011, owners will be liable for a fine of up to £1,000 if they do not take reasonable precautions to stop unauthorised access to their airgun by people under 18. This change in law is applicable to airgun owners in England, Wales and Scotland.
Young people and Shotgun Certificates…
Note: The law has recently changed due to “The Firearms (Amendment) Regulations 2010” – this document has been amended to incorporate the age changes given by the regulations.
1) THE LAW
The Firearms Act 1968, imposes no minimum age for the grant of a Shotgun certificate. The Act has been amended on several occasions since it became law and without change to this provision.
Section 28. A Chief Officer shall grant a shotgun certificate unless;
- The applicant is a prohibited person (someone who has served a significant custodial sentence); or
- The Chief Officer has reason to believe that he cannot be permitted to possess a shot gun without danger to the public safety or to the peace; or
- The Chief Officer believes that the applicant has no good reason for possessing a shotgun). Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, Section 3. (The burden falls on the police to demonstrate that the applicant has no good reason rather than vice versa.
Even if a young person is granted a shotgun certificate he is not allowed to use a shotgun without the supervision of an adult (>21 years) until he is 15. This deals with any objections which might be based on concerns over the age of criminal responsibility.
NEW - A young person cannot buy or hire a shotgun or ammunition until he is 18.
2) THE LICENSING PROCESS
Settled law requires that a Chief Officer must consider each case on its merits and from the standpoint of the applicant rather than from that of an objector. (Anderson – v Neilans (1940), Joy – v – Chief Constable Dumfries and Galloway (1966). Chief Officers are not allowed to have blanket policies. Any policy must not be punitive and must always admit of exceptions if it is to be lawful. R – v Wakefield Crown Court, ex parte Oldfield 1977.
In considering an application, Chief Officers should apply the following criteria
- Is the young person of adequate stature to use a shotgun safely?
- Does he understand the basic rules of safe gun handling and can he demonstrate them?
- Will he receive proper support and training from his immediate social circle?
If the answer to all of these questions is YES then the grant of a certificate to a young person poses no danger to public safety or to the peace
3) THE OFFICIAL VIEW
“It is in the interests of safety that a young person who is to handle firearms should be
properly taught at a relatively early age.” Home Office Guidance to the Police. Section 7.7
4) A JUDICIAL VIEW
“We do not consider that the appellant’s age is either directly or indirectly something likely to
give rise to the safety of the public or to the peace” (per Garland J and Justices in Peter Burge - v - Chief Constable of Norfolk, December 1994).
5) THE GOVERNMENT’S VIEW
“As with many other issues, we believe that this is one on which parents should decide the age at which their children should take part in shooting sports.” Charles Clark MP in the government’s reply to the Home Affairs Committee Report “Controls over Firearms”. Cm 4864 October 2000 (The then Home Secretary rejected the Committee’s proposal that there should be a minimum age for handling any firearm, set at 12 or 14 years).
6) WHY YOUNG PEOPLE APPLY FOR CERTIFICATES
Young people need shotgun certificates because the principal exemption for non certificate holders is complicated and outdated. Section 11(5) Firearms Act 1968. “A person may, without holding a shot gun certificate, borrow a shot gun from the occupier of private premises and use it on those premises in the occupier’s presence”. There is no legal definition of “occupier”. Occupation of land must be broad in nature and enforceable at law. Normally taken to mean the holder of a formal lease. Probably does not apply to those with verbal permission to shoot on land. This exemption discriminates against young people from urban areas.
As the law is unclear, BASC advises young people to obtain a certificate so that they do not stand into danger by inadvertently falling outside of the provisions of the exemption.
Unless all of the tests in the 11(5) exemption are satisfied both parties commit an offence. There are no legal authorities to assist with the interpretation for this sub-section.
NEW - This exemption now requires the lender to be aged 18 or over whenever the borrower is under the age of 18 years. This does not affect the ability for a certificate holder of 15 or older (but under 18 years) to lend a shotgun to non certificate holders of any age. In these circumstances the lender must always be the occupier
What explosives may be stored without registering premises?
One or more of the following:
a. 10kg black powder; and b. No more than 5kgs of one of the following options - i. shooters’ powder (black or nitro - powders) ii. any explosive or combination of explosives listed in Schedule 1 of COER 1991. (See Annex A) iii. a combination of shooters powder and any one or more of the explosives listed in schedule 1 of COER 1991. (See Annex A) and also c. 15kg net explosive content or one or other of thefollowing, or a combination of them – i. small arms ammunition ii. primers for use in small arms ammunition or percussion caps or;
NB: whichever of the options in ‘c’ above you may select, the total explosive contents of the items must only ever add up to 15 kg. As a rule of thumb, .6 grain is usually used as the explosive content of primers and caps. If you are in doubt about the amount in particular primers, the manufacturer’s data sheets or your supplier should have the information.
A Guide to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations (MSER) 2005 & associated legislation...search on BASC website for download.
Or try this...
Security of both Firearms and Shotguns is dealt with in Sections 3 and 4 of the Firearms Rules 1998.
Condition 4 (a)
“The firearms and ammunition to which the certificate relates must at all times (except in the circumstances set out in paragraph (B) below) be stored securely so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, access to the firearms or ammunition by an unauthorised person; ”
Condition 4 (B)
“Where a firearm or ammunition to which the certificate relates is in use or the holder of the certificate has the firearm with him for the purpose of cleaning, repairing or testing it or for some other purpose connected with its use, transfer or sale, or the firearm or ammunition is in transit to or from a place in connection with its use or any such purpose, reasonable precautions must be taken for the safe custody of the firearm or the ammunition.”
Condition 4 (a) The wording is exactly as for Firearms, except… access to the guns by an unauthorised person
Condition 4 (B) The wording is exactly as for firearms BUT for “firearm” read “shotgun“ and note that the condition does NOT include ammunition.
AS YOU CAN SEE THE RULES ARE THE SAME FOR BOTH FIREARMS AND SHOTGUNS, EXCEPT FOR SECTION 1 (FIREARMS) AMMUNITION.
THERE IS NO STATUTORY REQUIREMENT FOR CABINETS, FOR SEPARATE STORAGE OF S1 BOLTS OR AMMUNITION, NOR SPECIAL LOCKS, HOUSE SECURITY OR BURGLAR ALARMS IN EITHER CASE.
Additional advice can be found in the Home Office Security Handbook 2005 available here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/operational-policing/firearms-handbook-2005/
Safe-keeping of keys (2005 Handbook)
2.59 Only authorised persons should have access to any of the keys for any cabinet etc containing firearms and section 1 ammunition. Care needs to be taken in selecting locations for the storage of keys, particularly any spare sets, to avoid them being discovered and improperly used.
6.37 Security arrangements should include a system for ensuring the safe custody of keys, both to display cabinets and the building. As a rule only keys sufficient to enter should be taken from the premises.
6.38 Internal keys need to be in a key safe or cabinet that is out of general view and in a secure area.
6.39 Keys are to be only issued to authorised persons and never to contractors or outside agencies.
Home Office Security Handbook 2005
2.1 The security of firearms, section 1 ammunition and shotguns within a dwelling can in most cases be achieved using a cabinet designed for this purpose. New cabinets should conform to the requirements of BS7558 (see Annex C for examples on points of construction). The cabinet should be fixed to the structure and located to frustrate attack or identification by persons visiting the premises. BS7558 was introduced in 1992 but many older cabinets will be built to perfectly satisfactory standards and, if satisfactory, need not be replaced.
2.2 As an additional level of security, ammunition and easily removable component parts – such as rifle bolts etc - may be stored separately from the firearms they fit. This could be either by use of a detached storage container fitted elsewhere in the dwelling, or one built into or onto the firearms cabinet.
2.3 Whatever the method of security, it should also involve the physical prevention of access to those firearms by persons who might lawfully occupy the property other than the certificate holder, as well as by intruders. This may be especially important when children are in the premises.
2.4 Security should not be located so inaccessibly as to deter the certificate holder from securing his or her guns after use.
2.5 Under most circumstances, it is preferable that firearms should be secured within the occupied part of the structure. Separate, detached buildings, or those attached but having only external access (eg outhouses, garages etc) should not be used unless the levels of security warrant it. If used, these could also be protected by an intruder alarm linked to the household.
2.6 In some modern houses, thermal block is used for the inner skin of main walls. This does not provide as substantial an anchorage point for security devices as those that can divide integral garages from living areas, for example. (Integral garages mean those built within the dwelling and providi g internal door(s) to the other living areas). Whilst not usually a suitable location, if a garage is secured to the level of recommendations set out in paragraphs 2.36 to 2.46 of this Handbook then this option should be considered. It should, however, be considered as an option only after reviewing all other locations within the inhabited part of the premises.
2.7 If the certificate holder’s dwelling is a mobile home or static caravan, a different set of security concepts should be adopted (see paragraphs 2.25 to 2.35). These are primarily concerned with the anchorage of the structure. That structure's capability to store items securely may well require an interim layer of security to 'target harden' the unit. It is unlikely that a gunroom can satisfactorily be constructed within such a dwelling or unit of this type.
2.8 There is a need to consider other alternatives for unusual firearms such as puntguns, cannon etc. In these cases, such items may be secured in buildings other than the dwelling. Suitable securing points may be required where the situation or construction of such buildings make it necessary. Where possible any removable part that would render the gun inactive should be stored separately.
2.9 When advising on the location of any security cabinet, remember that most steel gun cabinets have a high weight-to-footprint ratio. The average floor loading for a suspended floor on timber joists is 56lbs per square foot. A 9-gun cabinet with a 24" x 12" (608 x 304mm) footprint can be in the order of 126 lbs, which equates to more than a safe average suspended floor fixing location than joist runs. In a loft installation for a cabinet, care needs to be exercised. Not all lofts have joists calculated to include weight loading other than that of the ceiling below. It is not uncommon for joists in lofts to be 40% smaller in cross sections than joists carrying floors. Full use must therefore be made of the support from structural walls carrying such joists. If there is any doubt, the applicant/certificate holder should obtain proper structural advice.
2.10 Fixings for security devices form an important part of the overall resistance to attack. Fastening to timber studded walls should be avoided, unless some additional anchorage can be provided. Floor or roof joists (subject to the previous comments) are acceptable. Walls of brick, concrete or masonry are usually the best bonding materials. It is important that the fixing chosen is correct for that material (eg expanding bolts, chemical anchors, toggle bolts etc). With modern building materials, particularly breeze and thermal block walls, the materials are not particularly suited to normal fixing devices. Any firearm security cabinet etc should be sited out of view from people both inside and outside the building. Securing to suitable building walls within built-in furnishings, eg wardrobes, cupboards, etc can prove effective. Rooms such as lofts and cellars for example, that are unlikely to be visited by casual visitors, are options. However, when recommending such places, it is important to consider whether the environment is suitable. Extremes in temperature, dampness, condensation etc may militate against such use, as not only could it result in damage to the firearms and ammunition but particularly in damp areas, it may cause erosion of the fixings or the cabinet material, thus reducing its security.
2.11 When security devices are being fitted, consideration should be given to varying the method of fixing. For example, in buildings with only partition internal walls and modern insulation block lining or random stone walls, it can be perfectly acceptable to fix cabinets horizontally, as long as appropriate fixing devices are used. This will also assist when fastening into suspended wooden flooring, as it spreads the load more evenly. In this case, coach screws of at least 3/8" (8mm) diameter and not less than 2.5" (63mm) long will provide a suitable anchorage. Such fixings must of course be made into joists and not simply to the floor boarding. Another consideration should be the size and weight of the larger form of gun cabinet or commercial safe. Due to their very weight or size, fixing may be unnecessary in these cases, but they should be located in such a position that would further frustrate removal.
Home Office Guidance to the Police 2002 Document...
"Knowledge by an unauthorised person of the location of the keys or to the combination to the locks may lead to a breach of the statutory security condition. In the case of Regina v Chelmsford Crown Court, Ex parte Farrer (2000) it was agreed that deliberately providing information of the whereabouts of the keys was an offence. It was “reasonably practicable” for Mr Farrer not to tell his mother where the keys were kept in this case."
Also, BASC has criticised South Yorkshire Police for sending a letter to certificate holders in the county advising them to leave their gun cabinet keys with a friend if they are going away on holiday.
- (a) "section 5 controls": weapons prohibited for private possession (for example, handguns and automatic weapons), unless held under the express authority of the Secretary of State;
- (b) "section 1 controls": the default level of control for firearms not otherwise provided for in legislation (in practice, the provision covering most categories of firearm in general use, e.g. rifles and high-powered air weapons, together with certain types of multi-shot shotgun);
- (c) "section 2 controls": controls on specific types of shotgun (long-barrelled shotguns with no magazine or a non-detachable magazine capable of holding no more than two cartridges);[
- (d) controls over low-powered air weapons exempted from the licensing regime under the Dangerous Air Weapons Rules 1969.
- (a) that the applicant is fit to be entrusted with a firearm, and is not a person prohibited from possessing a section 1 firearm;
- (b) that the applicant has good reason for possessing, purchasing or acquiring the specific firearm and ammunition for which the application is made;
- (c) that the applicant can be permitted to have the firearm or ammunition in his possession without danger to the public safety or to the peace.[
- (a) that the certificate holder "is of intemperate habits or unsound mind or otherwise unfitted to be entrusted with a firearm"; or
- (b) that the certificate holder can no longer be permitted to hold the firearms or ammunition to which the certificate relates without danger to public safety or the peace; or
- (c) that the certificate holder is prohibited from possessing a firearm;
- (d) that the certificate holder no longer has good reason to possess the firearm or ammunition.[
- (b) that the chief constable has no reason to believe that the applicant is prohibited from possessing a shotgun;
- use for sporting or for competition purposes;
- use for shooting vermin.
- (a) that the certificate holder is prohibited from possessing a shotgun; or
- (b) that the certificate holder cannot be permitted to possess a shotgun without danger to public safety or the peace.[
- . To grant a firearm certificate, the chief constable must be satisfied that an applicant is fit to be entrusted with a firearm: if he has reason to believe that a holder has become "unfitted" to be entrusted with a firearm, the certificate may be revoked. No such test applies to a shotgun certificate applicant.
- . The chief constable must be satisfied that an applicant for a firearm certificate has good reason for having a firearm and ammunition, and may revoke it if he no longer has reason to believe that the holder has good reason. He may only refuse an application for a shotgun certificate if he is satisfied that the applicant has no good reason for possessing a shotgun (ammunition is not taken into consideration). He cannot subsequently revoke a shotgun certificate if there is no longer a good reason for possession. In short, the onus is on an applicant for a firearm certificate to demonstrate a good reason, while the onus is on the police to demonstrate that an applicant for a shotgun certificate has no good reason.
- (subsidiary to good reason). The chief constable may refuse a firearm certificate because he has reason to believe the firearm will not be used, or has not been used regularly enough to demonstrate good reason; frequency of use is no ground for refusing or revoking a shotgun certificate.
- "it would be necessary to define that good reason in a way that was widened generally in character so that people could pursue legitimate activity in a perfectly reasonable way".[