William Powell Country

Firearms ‘The Legal Series’
Part 12


Article written by 15 November 2012

Borrowed Shotguns and Rifles 

The legislation allows for the possession and use of shotguns and of rifles and ammunition without needing to hold a certificate in certain circumstances.

Under s.11(5) of the 1968 Act an individual who does not hold a shotgun certificate may borrow a shotgun from the occupier of private premises and use it on those premises in the occupier’s presence.

S.16(1) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 enables a person who does not hold a firearm certificate to borrow a rifle from the occupier of private premises and to use it on those premises in the presence of either the occupier or their servant.  The occupier/servant must hold a firearm certificate in respect of the firearm being used, the borrower must be accompanied by the certificate holder, and the borrower’s possession and use must comply with any conditions as to those matters specified in the certificate.  S.16(2) of the 1988 Act permits the borrower of the rifle to purchase or acquire ammunition for use in that rifle and to have the ammunition in his possession during the period for which the rifle is borrowed, subject again to compliance with the conditions on the certificate.

For shotguns it is the “occupier” who must be present whereas for rifles it may be either the “occupier” or “a servant of the occupier”.  The term ‘occupier’ is not defined in the legislation, however the Home Office Guidance suggests that the definition given in s.27 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 should be adopted, which “in relation to any land other than the foreshore, includes any person having any right of hunting, shooting, fishing or taking game or fish on that land.” ‘Presence’ is normally taken to mean within sight and earshot.

There is a further exemption from the requirement to hold a certificate for gun bearers, under s.11(1) of the 1968 Act, which covers a person carrying a firearm or shotgun under the instruction of another person who holds a certificate and for that other person’s use for

sporting purposes only. It does not entitle the bearer to use the firearm or shotgun.  There is also an exemption for organised clay pigeon shoots, under s.11(6).


Matthew Knight is the Senior Partner of Knights Solicitors. Knights are retained by a number of national organisations in relation to firearms licencing including The National Small-Bore Rifle Association. Knight are also retained by se.. Read more.

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