Attention all Shooters – The Firearms Act

Subject to the exceptions below,  under The Firearms Act any person who needs a shotgun can have one.

The exceptions to this are a person who is prohibited from possessing a gun and a person who the Police are not satisfied has good reason to possess one.

If these exceptions do not apply an application for a shotgun certificate should be granted by the Police.  They must be satisfied that the Applicant is a suitable person to possess a certificate without any danger to public safety or the peace.

When considering an application for a shotgun certificate the Police have to consider the Applicant’s behaviour in all areas of his/her life.  The Police have to carry out a risk assessment guided by the Home Office Guide to Firearms Licencing Law.

The guide sets out factors to be taken into account.

There have been cases where an applicant has sought medical help due to the stress of an ongoing divorce or separation or some other family dispute and as a consequence of this, has been refused a certificate for being of “unsound mind”.

One of the most common factors that is taken into account is in the area of domestic abuse.

The guide specifically deals with domestic abuse and states that

“Particular attention should be paid to domestic incidents, specifically violence and patterns of behaviour by the Applicant which give cause for concern.  An incident of domestic violence taking place should trigger a need for the Police to review whether the certificate holder can be permitted to possess the firearm or shotgun without causing a danger to the public or the peace”.

In general, evidence of domestic abuse will indicate that an individual should not be permitted to possess a firearm.

It must be right that those who perpetrate domestic abuse and are a risk to their spouse/family or the public should be refused shotgun certificates.

However, there are situations where embittered spouses make complaints which are either exaggerated or in some cases, false.  A considerable number of revocations or refusals follow in this situation.

The Police will always err on the side of caution and will remove firearms from the matrimonial home.

It can be an uphill struggle for the certificate holder to gain or retain his/her certificate and involves an application to the Crown Court.  There are obviously costs consequences relating to this and Legal Aid is not available.  Further, if the Appellant loses the appeal, he/she can be ordered to contribute towards the legal costs incurred by the Police.

The advice to anyone potentially in this situation is first of all to try to avoid any confrontation.  This may be easier said than done and if a marriage or relationship is breaking down it is wise to put the gun in short term storage with a friend or firearms dealer who holds a shotgun certificate.

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If you wish to speak to one of our team about any aspect of Family Law, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please contact our Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Newark, Spalding or Sleaford offices.

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