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Reader Nick Maunder writes:

I have been following TTAG from here in the UK for a while now. What a great website. Keep up the good work. The gun laws here are VERY different to the US. Here in Great Britain the liberals have already got their way. We are already living under the sort of gun control laws you will probably be in for if the constitution is changed. So, as if you needed a reason to fight for your constitutional right to bear arms I want to give you a picture of your future under a ‘liberal’ society. I wish I was making this up but I promise I am not. This is how it works here in the UK . . .

To own a firearm in the UK for leisure use you first have to fill in an application form for a licence. You send it off to the police with photos of yourself, two forms of ID, details of your doctor, details of everyone living in your home the type and number of firearms you want to keep, the type and amount of ammunition you want to keep, and a non refundable fee of £50 ( about $78 ).

You also need two people to act as references. One has to be the secretary of a target shooting club of which you are a full member. The other has to be someone you have known for at least two years. Neither can be a relative or serving police officer. Your references are strictly confidential, you are not allowed to see them, they are sent to the police separately from your own application form.

Once the police have received all three forms they will move to stage two: contacting the references to make sure you did not pay them to sign the forms or force them under duress. All being good they will then go onto the next stage: a full criminal records check. If you have ever been in jail for more than six months you will not be granted a licence. Shorter sentences may also disqualify you depending on the offense.

If the criminal records checks are all ok they will then contact your doctor to confirm you are not on antidepressants or have a history of mental health problems or substance abuse.

Next you get an appointment for the weapons control officer to visit you at home. They will have a look round the house to get a feel for the family situation, check out the security arrangements if you have a burglar alarm or cctv (both is best). Then they will want to look at the storage facilities for your rifle.

You have to have two safes: one gun safe for the rifle itself, and another for the ammunition and the rifle bolt if it is a bolt action rifle. No one other than the applicant can have access to either safe, so if you drop dead unexpectedly your wife will have one hell of a time getting access to the safes to dispose of your old guns.

They may then want to see further proof of ID and your membership forms for the target shooting club. If the weapons control officer is satisfied that all is acceptable they will then pass the whole file on the chief constable of the county who has the final say in approving the licence. After they have done so they will give instructions for your licence to be printed & delivered.

The timing varies around the country but three or four months from start to finish is about the norm.

Once you have the licence you can then order the firearms and ammunition listed on the licence. In my case I wanted a Henry Golden Boy which had to be ordered from the US. The shipping took another month, after which the rifle has to be registered by the government before it can be passed on to the dealer. This took a further two months.

At the point of purchase you are obliged by law to send a letter to the weapons control department of the county police force telling them the make, model, serial number & date of purchase of your rifle, the licence number and address it will be kept.  The dealer will often do this for you. Every time you buy ammunition it has to be registered as well. It is recommended to keep a diary to record when you went shooting, where and how many rounds you used so the police can spot check your home or the shooting club if they feel the need.

If you decide you want to add another firearm to your collection you have to go through most of the process again. Either way the licence is only valid for five years so off we go again.

All in all it took me near enough exactly seven months to import one .22 rifle to the UK.

Even after all this you cannot fire the gun on your own property without a separate licence to permit shooting on that particular land. The application process is much the same as for a gun licence. Otherwise you are only allowed to shoot at the government approved firing range as a paid up member of the shooting club who in turn require you to have public liability insurance. If you are carrying a firearm or ammunition anywhere other than going to or from the firing range or firearms dealer you can be jailed, licence or not.

So, has all this licensing improved public safety?

In London, crimes involving illegal firearms have increased by 600 percent in around three years and are not showing signs of slowing. Most other UK cities are following the trend.

Sadly it is a popular vote winner to persecute anyone who supports target sports. So, every time illegal immigrants with illegal firearms shoot one another in a gang battle, self promoting publicity stunt seekers like Piers Morgan (remember him?) come crawling out from under their rocks claiming that gun laws in this country need tightening up even further. The fact is that changing the law on gun ownership will only affect people who plan to obey the law in the first place.

Law abiding citizens are not and never were the problem.

Don’t get me wrong here, despite the above, target sports are thriving in the UK. The police are extremely helpful and even quite sympathetic.  In Sussex county alone there are 28,000 gun licence holders, most with more than one firearm on the licence. All the jumping through hoops to get the licence was well worth it. I am now the proud owner of a Henry Golden Boy and a Ruger 10/22. Both are the most fun I have had with my clothes on.

Make no mistake about it: any move to “tighten” control laws is merely the thin end of the wedge. Once the lid is lifted, our present will be your future.

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    • What exactly would they need liberating from? How many englishmen do you know that complain about the ability to not own a gun?

  1. Great writeup, Nick. Thanks for sending it in.

    “Make no mistake about it: any move to “tighten” control laws is merely the thin end of the wedge. Once the lid is lifted, our present will be your future.”

    This line is particularly apropos given the post immediately prior to this one.

  2. The “thin edge of the wedge” was driven here in the US long ago…we need to take the hammer from their hands, and force it where the sun don’t shine.

  3. We should propose this as the federal model for pot legalization, purchasing alcohol, voting, conceiving children, and owning a large dog, and see if it still sounds good!


  4. The funny thing is that one of the major contributing factors to the founding of the American National Rifle Association was the existence of a National Rifle Association in the United Kingdom… and the fact that they were capable of outshooting us. I’m glad to hear that they haven’t managed to completely stamp out the shooting sports in the UK and that at least what they are allowed to have is thriving, though I’ve heard that if you manage to defend yourself with a firearm in the UK, you’re in for some pretty nasty sentencing, because current UK law does not differentiate between the assailant trying to kill you and you defending yourself.

    Take heed.

    • The Second Amendment IN NO WAY is about the “shooting sports”; you’d best correct that notion, because it’s totally erroneous.

      • Uhhh… He never said it was. The last sentence strongly implies that he knows exactly where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the Second Amendment’s role in society’s daily doings.

        • Thank you.

          MOST of my consideration involving the selection of a personal firearm is actually “Is this a piece of equipment that I would be willing to bet my life on were I required to use it to defend myself?” I figure once I have that covered (to include the expense of training. Training means time AND ammo, neither of which are cheap), I can move on to the “because it’s fun to shoot” category. Maybe in the future when I have more discretionary income I can move on to the “because it’s fun to shoot and pretty” category.

          As it stands, the prettiest thing I bought was a 91-30, because the old girl was inexpensive, in good repair, reliable in a way that puts Kalashnikovs to shame, and accurate. No longer quite in the “self defense” category… but it was inexpensive and fun to shoot.

  5. Sounds great. I bet my home state of California will be just like this, maybe by this afternoon.
    So, 28,000 minutemen in one UK city? That’s a militia that should be arriving any time now…
    Can we look forward to that same ‘response’ here too?

    • There are 9 million of us here in California. Our response should be to force the NRA and the SAF to recognize the loss to their coffers should shooting die out in California. Gun makers, ammo makers and guns rights groups have a large financial stake in this state and they need to step up.

      • Your response should be the indictment, trial, and execution of any “lawmakers” that suborn this garbage and their “law enforcement” collaborators. Since the ballot box is not working, it’s time to reach for the cartridge box.

        • serge, I’ll tell you the same I tell all the keyboard commandoes. Lead by example. If you haven’t the courage of your convictions to start the war, don’t be instigating others.

  6. Thanks, Nick, Old Bean! You have just painted for us a portrait of our future, if we don’t care enough to stop the advance of the “violence-free state”.

  7. JEEZ, that was depressing. And I live in New York. Misery may love company but that didn’t make me feel any better.

    • I used to live in NY, and the first four paragraphs sounded a whole lot like trying to get a CCW there, and that was before the Safe Act.

  8. Thanks, Nick for that informative … and somewhat depressing … piece.

    Piers Morgan? Yeah, we know him. He managed to weasel his way onto a failing cable TV network where he rants about how backward we colonials are. He earned the nickname of “Musket Morgan” believing that since our Founders only had muskets – rifles, actually (he gets that wrong, too) – that we should be limited to black powder and round shot. He once referred to our Constitution as that “little book of yours”.

    Take that loon back please?

    • Jeremy Clarkson would have to meet him at Immigration for a “welcoming” ceremony.

      On a completely unrelated note, what’s the first aid procedure for broken and split knuckles?

      • Avoiding broken and split knuckles by wrapping your uninjured hands around a crickit bat before engaging in wall to wall counseling with the douche in question. IMHO.

  9. A good reason to fight against utter stupidity! I also want a Henry Rifle in the near future. They finally have one at a nearby store, but I just bought a shotgun. Maybe in a month or two I can bring it home if it is still there.

  10. If the Author of this write-up ever comes to Arizona he is welcome to shoot anything and everything in my collection on my dime. I can’t imagine living under those standards for a simple .22

  11. I feel your pain, Nick. As an ex-pat now residing in NY, I myself was on the receiving end of the draconian legislation passed following Dunblane – I lost a S&W 669 and a S&W Model 66.
    Even though thousands of law abiding citizens were summarily prohibited from owning hand-guns in one fell swoop, it has had absolutely no effect on reducing gun crime. Perhaps the exact opposite, as certain inner-city areas are so sorely afflicted that there is a strong desire among the ranks (so I’m told) for all Police Officers to be armed.
    In fact a number of forces are beginning to equip their regular officers with Tazer, which was previously the exclusive provence of armed response officers.
    Add to this, the swathing cut-backs (owing to the country being almost flat-broke), which means that there are far fewer officers than needed on the beat.
    The old adage of “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away” is more likely to be in excess of a half-hour in rural parts of the country.
    It really seems that it has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that effecting legislation which penalizes law-abiding citizens does not make our streets/homes/schools any safer at all – and yet, our ‘esteemed’ Gov. Cuomo seems hell-bent on pursuing an agenda of civilian disarmament – even if it means flushing the Constitution down the toilet!
    But hey, it’s for the children – right?

  12. Britain is paying for all its attempts to exterminate the only people on the islands that didn’t fall under the pall of Roman barbarism and genetic dead ends. I pity the people who are freedom minded that remain in that ancient cesspit.

  13. Believe it or not, I had thought it was even harder than that to get a firearm in the UK – and I would have never guessed they’d let you get a 10/22. What are the prospects of getting something with a little more pop than a .22 though?

    • Identical process if you want a repeating shotgun with a capacity of more than (can’t remember offhand which) 2 or 3 rounds: it’s classed as a “firearm” which falls under the process described.

      Full-bore rifles, as long as they aren’t repeaters, likewise (lever or bolt yes, semi-auto no).

      Handguns are out – except for muzzle-loading black powder weapons, so the reproduction revolver scene survives in a few corners. (Had to hand in my Glock 21, but I could – with time and money – get a LeMat instead, for example)

      If you want a non-repeater shotgun, provided the barrel(s) are over 24 inches, then a shotgun certificate is similar but rather less intrusive – as long as your record is clean you’re not required to be a club member or show any particular reason for owning it. No idea if it’s quicker or not, but it’s not too hard to get the means to do a Joe Biden if you’re that way inclined.

      It sucks, but it’s not as bad as some seem to believe – there’s probably a couple of US states that have it as bad as we do…

      And agreeing with the author on another point: it’s made the square root of bugger-all difference to crime rates.

  14. And the truly sad thing is the UK gun owner will NEVER have a relaxing of laws that effect them (no sunset AWB for them) it will only get worse, Australia is going the same way.

  15. Watched the film The Football Factory the other night so I’m already recovering from an EXTREMELY dim view of Britain. This isn’t helping.

  16. Now, I understand that Brits can own semi-auto rimfires if that is correct could you own a hypothetical AR clone in .17 Winchester Super Magnum and would the British firearms market go for such a thing?

  17. I’m glad my ancestors buggered off out of Britain lo these many centuries ago! We still get stuck with much of this nonsense here in New Zealand, but at least the Police treat us with a little respect and give us credit for common sense. We don’t have to register individual firearms, and can buy anything within these limits: Rimfire – 15 round magazine capacity, but bolt action and semi auto are fine; Centrefire – 5 round magazines only, but again bolt action and semi auto are fine. We can still buy pistols if we choose to spend the money on thicker walled safes, greater scrutiny by Police, and mandatory membership of a pistol club for over a year. Not too prohibitive if you’re not broke. Similarly, you can get an AR or AK if you undergo the same sort of extra mile and expense.

    Once you have your firearm, there is a lot of land in which hunting is permitted, and farmers like control of the rabbit overpopulation. There are deer, wild pig, wallaby, tahr, goat, possum, hare, rabbit, all introduced mammals, but sadly no tigers, bears, wolves, pumas or anything particularly dangerous.

    We have had three or so mass shootings by nutters, but this is a very rare thing, and there is no current political pressure for shutting down firearms ownership. Partly this is because over half of our annual national income is from primary products, and firearms are essential tools on the farm. Hunting is an important recreation to us. Glad we don’t have American politicians or British Police to control us!

  18. In that time you can move to the US, get a house, car, job, and buy a number of guns and ammo. Well if you move to a none similar police state anyway…

  19. I dont get how the country that gave us Jeremy Clarkson can have so many beef-headed laws. I shouldn’t speak though, the US is right behind and neither land has a thing to show for why we should keep gun control.

    • Clarkson? The real tragedy is that this is the same country that held out against the full might of the Luftwaffe after the rest of Europe had fallen. I guess “Keep Calm and Carry On” somehow wasn’t an option after Dunblane?

  20. As for firearms, it’s all been said. What I want is for you to take Pearce Morgan back! Dumping him on the colonies because he wont stfu was really cold of you brits.

  21. One thing that article didn’t mention is that HANDGUNS are totally BANNED in UK for civilians. Even if they’re Olympic shooters.

  22. So what happens if in the dead of night if you are force to fight for your life? Not joking here, are you allowed to use your firearms to protect family, self, property, or your neighbor?

    • nope! You’ll get charged with assault with a deadly weapon or murder, or whatever it happens to be called in the UK.

    • Expect some serious discussions with the police, just like most of the US: didn’t Massad Ayoob warn that if you shoot someone, no matter how justified, you can expect to spend the night in the care of your local constabulary? However, unless you did something stupid or excessive, you’ll generally be released without charge.

      “The couple were arrested and held in custody for 40 hours on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm after Mr Ferrie called police to tell them he had fired his shotgun at the intruders, Leicester Crown Court heard.
      Andrew Frymann, mitigating for O’Gorman, said that being shot was like a “near-death experience” for which his client was not prepared.
      The burglar’s injuries have left him with blurred vision in his eye, severe pain and problems with his balance, the hearing was told.
      However, responding to the barrister’s suggestion that O’Gorman was traumatised by the experience, Judge Pert said the arrest of Mr and Mrs Ferrie was just as severe.
      “Some might argue that being arrested and locked up for 40 hours is a trauma,” he said.
      Mr and Mrs Ferrie, who were not in court today because they are out of the country, were later told they would not face criminal charges.”

  23. Had to jump through most of those loops myself back when I lived there. Then came Hungerford, the 1997 ban of handguns and semi-auto rifles.

    I had to turn in my very accurate and beautiful SS Colt Government 5″ that I purchased new in 1992.

    I was lucky and moved to the US in 2000. Now I fight to educate the clueless and support Second Amendment organizations as much as I can. It was similar to escaping from North Korea, only to find the Kim-Jong’s taking over my new homeland.

  24. Well when Hitler number two rears his ugly head towards England,don’t ask us for guns ,we lend leased them too you in WW2’you threw them away apparently cause we the tax payers who paid for them didn’t get them back.
    Apparently England and the British Colonies haven ‘t learned their lesson,where’s Churchill?
    Countries (and states) with Stupid Librals running things never learn the lessons of History and History is bound to repeat itself.,No disrespect ,but England Australia,New Zealand ,Canada are some of the most beautiful places in the World with wonderful people but until your Leaders ,who are voted in by their people,get a clue that the World is not a nice place all the time and you have o stop treating your citizens like they are children ,you are lost and all could be lost if people don’t realize guns are a big responsibility but ,key word here ,trained people with firearms keep the world safer,Idiots running governments who are clueless about and afraid of guns and want their citizens to be the same are bound to be taken over by Governments and people who are armed .Yamamoto did not attack mainland America because” there is a gun behind every blade of grass” ,guess what? there still is.

  25. That’s ok. All they have to do is pass ONE gun control law at the federal level, just one, and we’re going back to the Wild West days. I will make it my life’s work to have all federal gun laws invalidated, and I WILL do it. I already have the GCA68’s case airtight, and am working on the Constitutional basis for the others one by one.

    Go ahead, commies. Your move.

  26. Any of you morons on this site going to CONTINUE to vote libtard (democrat). I could slap your stupid faces off.

  27. “or have a history of mental health problems” Well damn, some situational depression after a divorce or an anxiety disorder and no guns for you in the UK. WOW. :.(

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