Questions & Answers

Use the ‘Ask a Question’ box at the foot of this page to submit a question to the authors of The Firearms Law Handbook, and look out for an answer here.

I want to know if buying an old spec deactivated gun with a uk certificate is allowed even if someone who sells them said they can never turn dangerous again. Would you get in trouble for buying an old spec deactivated gun? I was thinking of buying a deactivated gun. Hamza

asked by Hamza Tariq

Hi Hamza,

In the statute it is an offence to sell a defectively deactivated weapon, that is one which has not been brought up to the most recent deactivation standard. However we don’t believe that this can be enforced at the moment because the Secretary of State has not published regulations in accordance with the Act. In any event it is only the seller who commits an offence, not the buyer.
there is also a requirement in the Act for owners of deactivated firearms to notify possession of them to the authorities. This has not yet been brought into force, But may be introduced in the next year or two.
I know these answers sound vague, but that is the current state of the law.

Answered by Nick Doherty

Clarification of notification requirements. I have several ‘Old Spec’ legacy deactivated firearms, the latest deactivation date I have is January 2016 so all are deactivated before the EU specifications that became law on 08/04/2016. Do I understand correctly that I do not need to notify the Home Office of these deactivated firearms currently in my possession? Many thanks, Marc

asked by Marc

Yes, you are correct.  Since 12 December 2019 there has been a requirement for owners to notify the appropriate national authority (the Home Office) of ownership of certain deactivated firearms held in the United Kingdom and their transfer. Failure to notify possession or transfer is an offence (see regulations  2 & 3 of the Firearms Regulations 2019 for further details). However, firearms which were deactivated prior to 8 April 2016 are not covered by these provisions until such time as they are transferred.  Therefore you do not need to notify the Home Office for as long as you continue to retain your old spec deactivated firearms, and will only need to do so if and when you transfer them, by selling or giving, to another person.

Answered by Laura Saunsbury

Can I have a post 1939 firearm as an antique under the new rules?

asked by Paul Scutton

The short answer to your question will be no when the new Antique Firearms Regulations 2020 come into force very soon. Under these new rules, only firearms manufactured before September 1939 can qualify as an antique firearm which you can lawfully possess as a curiosity or ornament without holding a firearm certificate. There are also additional criteria in relation to the ignition system and calibre of ammunition (see the post on this topic on our News page).  If you have a firearm you wish to keep as an antique but it was made after the 1939 cut off date, it will only be legal for you to retain it if you apply for and are granted a firearm certificate giving you authority to possess it. Where you only want a firearm certificate for this purpose, there will be no requirement for you to demonstrate good reason for possession of the old firearm, although your application will be subject to the usual checks as to your suitability to be a certificate holder.

Answered by Laura Saunsbury

What type of shooting, if any, is allowed during the Coronavirus lockdown?

asked by Sandra Bough

This is our take on the rules, as so far ‘explained’ by the government.

The aim of the lockdown is to curb contact with others outside your family or ‘bubble’. As far as shooting is concerned this will prevent any organised activity taking place which involves ‘mingling’. Therefore in our view organised game shoots, clay pigeon shooting and shooting at target ranges are not permitted. Most ranges and clay grounds have announced they will close.

Work that cannot be done from home is permitted, and work includes ‘voluntary service’, so game keepers and those who control vermin to protect crops or other animals can continue to work, even if unpaid.

Rough shooting, deer management and the like can also continue as a recreational activity, as long as the other rules concerning social distancing outside of your bubble are observed.  The only difficulty for shooters may be the requirement to not travel too far for leisure activities or exercise. The full details of the new lockdown restrictions in force from 5th November 2020 are here.

In a slightly different sense to usual, we wish you ‘safe shooting’, for those of you who can continue.

Answered by Nick Doherty

I would like to use a firearm in a theatrical performance.

asked by James Brown

There is an exemption in Section 12 of the Act which allows the possession of firearms (but not any ammunition other than blanks) in theatrical performances by the actors. This applies to film and television productions in the same way.

Answered by Laura Saunsbury

When do the new rules about antique firearms come in to force?

asked by John Regan

The Statutory Instrument was initially laid before Parliament on 9th November, and was expected to come into force in December 2020. However, it was then withdrawn to correct some drafting errors in it, and the implementation of these rules has now been delayed. For further details of these changes and further updates on them coming into force, see our post in the News section of this website. 

Answered by Nick Doherty

What is the position regarding a European Weapons Pass after we leave the EU?

asked by Paul Sheard

Your EWP, or European Firearms Pass (same thing) will not be valid from 1st January 2021. Police forces will not issue them after that date.

If you wish to travel to any EU country after that date you will need to obtain whatever type of permit or license is required in that o country. Bear in mind to drive to a shoot in Spain or Italy you would also need to comply with any French requirements if you were driving through that country on the way there. There are too many variables to give a more comprehensive answer here, we would advise you to contact the embassy of all the countries involved.

EWPs from other EU states will no longer be recognised here, so those who ‘sponsor’ visitors from other EU states will still need to apply for a Visitors Permit for them, but will not be required to produce their EWP in support of the application. In these circumstances we advise you to consult your local licensing department as to what will be required.

Answered by Laura Saunsbury

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