Security of Firearms and Ammunition

AuthorLaura Saunsbury/Nick Doherty
Pages137-142

Chapter 8


Security of Firearms and Ammunition

INTRODUCTION

8.01 All firearms and shotguns will be held on certificate subject to conditions as to them being held and used securely. ‘Firearms or shotguns to which a certificate relates must be stored securely at all times so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, access to the guns by unauthorised persons’.1

8.02 On a firearm or shotgun certificate the relevant statutory conditions are expressed as follows:2

(4) That the firearms and ammunition to which the certificate relates must at all times (except in the circumstances described in (5) below) be stored securely so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, access to them by unauthorised persons.

(5) That, where a firearm or ammunition to which the certificate relates—

(a) is in use;3 or

(b) the certificate holder has the firearm with him for the purpose of cleaning, repairing or testing, or for some other purpose connected with its use, transfer4or sale; or

1Firearms Rules 1998.

2Firearms Rules 1998, r 3(4). Further conditions can be imposed in the case of specialised weapons and ammunition, such as humane killers, shot pistols and starting pistols, restricting their use to their special purposes (Firearms Rules 1998, r 3(5)).

3In a case decided under the earlier Firearms (Dangerous Air Weapons) Rules of 1969, which referred to ‘actual use’, it was held that live ammunition concealed in the back of an unattended car for about half an hour was not in actual use nor kept in a secure place with a view to preventing access to it by unauthorised persons (Marsh v Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset, The Independent, 8 May 1987, DC).

4‘Transfer’ is defined to include let on hire, give, lend and part with possession (FA 1968, s 57(4)).

138 The Firearms Law Handbook

(c) is in transit to or from a place in connection with its use for any of the purposes at (b) above,

reasonable precautions must be taken for the safe custody of the firearm or ammunition.

8.03 Similar conditions are imposed on RFDs, auctioneers, shooting clubs, museums and those who hold the Secretary of State’s authority to possess prohibited weapons. In some of these cases the conditions relating to security may also require the firearms in question to be stored at particular premises (such as the RFD’s place of business, or the clubhouse, as appropriate), unless in use. There are a large number of technical specifications, such as the thickness of the steel from which a gun cabinet should be made and the type of alarm that might be appropriate in particular circumstances, but these details are outside the scope of this book.5It should be said that while the law requires ‘safekeeping’, how that is to be achieved is not set out in the law. It is a matter of interpretation in each individual case and there is a wide discretion left to individual police forces. Set out below is some general guidance as to what is likely to be expected.

8.04 When considering the question of security, it is important to bear in mind two matters. Firstly, it is a criminal offence to fail to comply with a condition of your certificate, and so if you were found to be in breach of the security requirements you are liable to be prosecuted. Secondly, failure to take security seriously is likely to lead the police to believe your possession of firearms might pose a danger to public...

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