Brit reader Adam Pugh read yesterday’s ‘Which Gun Would You Grab’ post and saw, well, a few problems with the way gun laws in the Land of Hope and Glory were portrayed. Being an aspiring gunsmith, he appears to have experience navigating Blighty’s ballistic barriers to bangstick ownership. Being from Cambridge, he eschews the Oxford comma and for that we salute him. Here are his corrections and amplifications . . .
1. Semi-automatic centrefire guns are not banned outright – only semi-automatic centrefire rifles and pistols. You can own semi-automatic shotguns in both Section 2 (shotgun certificate, limited to 2+1 capacity, 24+” barrel – 40+” OAL) or Section 1 (firearms certificate, unlimited capacity, if semi or pump then same dimension requirements as Section 2, if SxS, O/U, bolt or lever action then 12+” barrel – 24+” overall length). Restrictions on Section 2 shotgun ammunition dictate that the cartridge must contain five or more shot, none of which exceeds .36 inch in diameter. Slug is available on a Section 1 certificate.
2. Neither application for Section 2 or Section 1 certificates requires a visit to a police station – or any other government building. Once the application is received and partially processed, an appointment is made by the relevant police force for a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) to visit the applicant at their home at a time convenient to the applicant. An interview then takes place, within which the FEO forms a personal impression of the applicant’s suitability to own firearms.
3. At the present time, every eligible person in the UK who wishes to own a Section 2 shotgun has the right to do so and needs to show no special reason. It would be improper (and without basis in law) for an FEO to ask why you wanted one – and the applicant would be under no obligation to answer. In almost all cases though, a simple reply of “clays” or “pest control” would be more than sufficient – and possibly expedient.
4. Every firearm and the overall ammunition allowance on a Section 1 ticket requires justification on the part of the applicant. The standard reasoning for applying for a “high capacity” shotgun (a British term), would be for crop protection/vermin control, practical or a target shotgun. The latter two disciplines would ordinarily be deemed acceptable “good reasons” to request an allowance for slugs.
5. Both an application for a shotgun or firearms certificate needs to be supported by referees – one for a shotgun and two for firearms. If you wish to apply for both certificates you can do so on a coterminous basis, in which case the requirements for the firearms certificate take precedence.
Please don’t think for one second that I’m in favour of the current licensing process in the UK – I most certainly am not. It’s convoluted, overly-bureaucratic and not necessarily fit for the purpose that it was originally intended – that of protecting the public. What it does is waste tax payers’ money, discourage new people from participating in the sport (I’m sure many opponents of shooting sports will see this as a positive) and has a huge negative impact on the manufacturing and retail sectors associated with shooting. And then there are the problems and inconvenience it causes for the thousands of law-abiding citizens who choose to participate in target and sport shooting.
The lesson you should all take from this is, in my opinion, never take a step back when new legislation is proposed in your own country. And most of all, appreciate just how good you all really have it – even those of you in comparatively restricted locales such as California.