AuthorLaura Saunsbury/Nick Doherty


This is the second edition of The Firearms Law Handbook, and therefore the eighth edition of Gun Law, last published in July 1999, which this work incorporates. It has grown with every succeeding edition as the legislation regarding the ownership and use of guns in Britain becomes ever more onerous and complicated. The aim of this book, and its predecessor, is simple; to help the ordinary reader understand the complexities of firearms legislation in Britain.

As the late Godfrey Sandys-Winsch observed in the Preface to his first edition of Gun Law in 1969, it had been his intention to write a simple book, but ‘it soon became apparent that the complications of the law would not allow the attainment of that objective’. Those familiar with this subject will agree with our view that the ‘complications of the law’ have increased many times in the intervening 50 years.

This work is concerned with the law as it stands today, which we have attempted to explain in terms as concise and easily understood as possible given the complexities that exist in this area. We are not concerned with the various policies behind the legislation currently on the statute book, although there is certainly scope for the view that if the overriding objective was a reduction in armed crime, it has achieved little, whilst leading to the abolition of some shooting sports and causing additional inconvenience for many hundreds of thousands of other law-abiding shooters. The administrative burden and cost on the police who have to license the activities of those lawful shooters is enormous. This is particularly so when one considers that according to the government’s own figures, published in the briefing paper in relation to the Offensive Weapons Bill 2018, firearms were only used in 0.2 per cent of recorded crime and 0.8 per cent of violence against the person offences in 2016/2017.

Since the previous edition of this book was published in 2011 there have been major changes in the legislation regarding firearms, most importantly the provisions contained within the Policing and Crime Act 2017 (P&CA 2017) which have changed the definitions of ‘firearm’, ‘component part’, ‘deactivated weapon’ and ‘antique firearm’. In addition, there have in recent years been significant amendments to the Home Office, Guide on Firearms Licensing Law

xiv The Firearms Law Handbook

(Guide), for example the introduction in 2016 of the requirement for the police to make enquiries with the doctor of every...

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