Changes to Firearms Licencing with effect from 2nd May 2017

ArdMoor’s Managing Director and in-house expert, Anthony Stodart, tells us of the recent changes to Firearms Licencing and the positive impact that he hopes this will have on encouraging others to take up the sport of shooting.

The Police and Crime Act 2017 brought in some changes that will strengthen existing Firearms legislation by introducing some new offences to close some loopholes that were being exploited by criminals. It also introduced some changes that should make things easier for firearm and shotgun certificate holders.

The Act made some changes to the definition of a firearm, which won’t affect anyone currently holding a certificate but will enhance the Police ability to prosecute someone who is up to no good. It will also enable them to more successfully prosecute someone with the tools required to convert an imitation weapon into a firearm.

The changes that affect us law abiding citizens are:-

Section 129:- Controls on Ammunition which Expands on Impact

Previously, expanding ammunition was prohibited although there was an exemption for those needing it for the lawful shooting of deer, the shooting of vermin or other wildlife in land management, the humane killing of animals or for the shooting of animals for the protection of other animals or humans. It also only applied for rifle ammunition. Those needing expanding ammunition had to have that exemption noted on their firearms certificate.

That prohibition has now been lifted for rifle ammunition but it has been enforced to prohibit expanding ammunition for a pistol instead.

Section 130:- Authorised Lending and Possession of Firearms for Hunting

The new Act permits the lawful borrowing and possession of a firearm by non-certificate holders on private land which gives much needed clarity to Estates where guests might be using an “Estate Rifle” but also helps in circumstances where anyone might want to try shooting out themselves without first having to go to the expense of getting a certificate.

There are, quite sensibly, conditions which apply:-

  • In the case of a rifle, the borrower has to be aged 17 or over.
  • The borrowing and possession are for either hunting animals or shooting game or vermin and/or for shooting at artificial targets.
  • The lender must be aged 18 or over, have a certificate for the borrowed firearm and either have the legal right to allow others to shoot on the premises or have written authorisation from the owner of the premises to lend the firearm for use on his ground.
  • The borrower’s possession and use of the rifle or shotgun must comply with any conditions placed on the lender’s certificate.
  • The lender must be present or the borrower must be in the presence of another person who is 18 or over provided they are also a certificate holder themselves (in the case of a rifle, they need to have the rifle on their certificate).

The big change this makes is particularly for shotgun users and those new shots who want to try the sport out before committing to having a certificate. Previously, the occupier of the premises was the only person who could lend a gun to someone in his presence. That meant that a new shot was often obliged to get a certificate as they would be unable to be coached by a parent or other adult unless that parent or other adult was the occupier of the land they were on.

All of that made things almost impossible for anyone other than the offspring of a landowner to learn to shoot unless they were fortunate enough to be able to borrow a gun and be supervised by someone occupying the land they were on.

The change therefore benefits anyone interested in shooting and makes life a lot easier for parents keen to get their children involved in the sport whether for target or game shooting.

To see more of our expert shooting articles and to find out more about the sport, please visit the shooting section of ArdMoor’s blog.

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