William Powell Country

Firearms ‘The Legal Series’
Part 2


Article written by 06 September 2012

Licensing of firearms, shotguns and ammunition

A firearm certificate is required to possess firearms and firearm ammunition, and a shotgun certificate is required if you wish to possess shotguns.

A shotgun certificate is not required to possess or acquire most types of shotgun cartridges (anything containing five or more shot, none of which exceeds .36 inch in diameter).  All single bulleted shotgun ammunition, for example a solid slug, is subject to the requirement for a firearm certificate.

Obtaining a shotgun certificate is far easier than obtaining a firearm certificate. For both types of certificate the police will need to be satisfied you can be permitted to possess firearms, or shotguns, without danger to the public safety or the peace.

For a firearm certificate, the applicant must demonstrate “good reason” to the police. A shotgun certificate should be granted unless the police are satisfied the applicant does not have a good reason for possessing one; and an applicant should be regarded as having good reason if the shotgun is intended to be used for sporting or competition purposes or for shooting vermin (s.28(1)(B) of the 1968 Act).

A shotgun certificate authorises a person to have in their possession or to acquire an unlimited number of shotguns, although each must be notified to the police, whereas a firearm certificate covers only those firearms specified (for each of which the applicant will need to demonstrate good reason).

Good reason to possess a firearm includes:

– Quarry shooting including vermin and other shooting over land;

– Target shooting;

– Humane dispatch of sick or injured animals;

– Slaughtering of animals for human consumption (a captive-bolt instrument which is not classified as a firearm is commonly used for this purpose, but a free-bullet slaughtering instrument will require authorization).

An additional issue which the police need to consider when dealing with firearms certificates, which does not apply to shotgun certificates, is whether the applicant is “fit to be entrusted with a firearm”.  Factors which may suggest a person is not, include evidence of criminal involvement, or that the applicant is of intemperate habits or unsound mind.  Those who seek to possess firearms or shotguns must remember that any loss of temper or antisocial behaviour or regulatory infringement will risk a police inquiry and may lead to revocation.

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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