home_office_firearms_law by ashrafp


									                                HOME OFFICE

                                FIREARMS LAW

                         GUIDANCE TO THE POLICE

In this article Stalking Magazine’s legal affairs correspondence, David Barnes,

introduces the new Guidance to readers. He highlights the most relevant

chapters for stalkers and explains its importance to all firearm users.

The December 2001 Edition of the Home Office Law Guidance to the Police

“the Guidance”) replaces the 1989 Guidance, which was the first Guidance

made available to the public.

The primary purpose of the Guidance is to assist the police to deal with

firearm legislation generally and firearms law administration (licensing) in

particular. A secondary intention is said to be to “encourage an informed

understanding amongst firearms users of the considerations involved in the

Firearms Acts”.

Stalkers are now able to read the Guidance, which has been published on the

Web. The website address is:


Hard copies should be available from HM Stationery Office, 123 Kingsway

London WC2B 6PQ.

The Guidance comprises 29 chapters. In this article lack of space constrains

the writer from dealing in any detail with these. “Cherry picking” on behalf of

Stalking Magazine, he selects those that appear most pertinent.

Chapter 1 Is the Introduction to the Guidance.        It sets out the two aims

mentioned in the third paragraph above. In future stalkers should be able to
see more readily than hitherto where their Police Licensing Authority is

coming from in its dealings with them. Perusal of the Guidance should give

them insight into the police approach. Secondly, after reading the Guide,

stalkers should have a better understanding of the application of the Firearms

Acts and how this affects them as firearm users. The Guidance is not the law,

but an explanation of it. When, if and as it is adopted by Firearms Licensing

Authorities, it should result in a more consistent administration of the law and

good practice by the administrators.

This time it is intended to update the Guidance, which should avoid this

Edition becoming out of date, as did its predecessor. It deals with firearms

law in England, Wales and Scotland and in Northern Ireland. Finally, the

Introduction to the Guidance flags up the Human Rights Act 1998 and the

impact this has or may in future have on firearms law administration.

Chapter 2 provides definitions and classifications of firearms

Chapter 4. Expanding Ammunition is the subject of the fourth chapter.

Stalkers will be interested in the exemption which covers them for the use of

expanding ammunition for the lawful shooting of deer and to zero their deer

rifle for deer stalking.

Chapter 5 deals with restrictions on the possession, handling and distribution

of firearms and ammunition and is worth a read. One hopes not too many

stalkers will be prohibited persons under S.21 of the Firearms Act 1968.

The position of young persons is explained in Chapter 7, which is helpful for

them and their parents and supporters. The complex law on the possession

of firearms by young persons is not changed one jot by the Guidance, but it at

least becomes more comprehensible.

                                   Page 2 of 5
Chapter 6 includes a section on the Estate Rifle facility.

Chapter 10 entitled “Firearms Certificate Procedure” claims to give an

overview of the certification procedure. This is a long chapter with 64 sub-

sections. Suffice to say it is of great importance to all stalkers as existing or

renewing firearms certificate holders.       It will pay stalkers to read and

remember the contents of this chapter.

The next chapter provides a similar overview of the shotgun certificate

procedure. Rather shorter, it is desirable if not essential reading for shotgun


The practice of a firearms lawyer frequently involves the issue of whether a

former, an existing or a would-be certificate holder is fit to be entrusted with a

firearm and so Chapter 12 is of particular interest to the writer. As it points

out in the opening paragraph of this chapter, “fitness” only relates to firearms

and so is a huge relevance to stalkers and other rifle users such as keepers

and pest controllers. This is an area of firearms law administration that has

spawned several cases and, as one would expect, the familiar legal

authorities of Dabek, Germain and others put in appearances in this chapter

as they have hitherto in the pages of Stalking Magazine.

Chapter 13 deals with the mixed question of what constitutes “good reason to

possess a firearm”. Paras 13.28 – 32 inclusive are particular interesting as

they concern the shooting of deer. When this chapter is understood and

applied by Police Licensing Authorities and accepted by stalkers, it will save a

lot of arguments.

Chapter 14 about the law on shooting birds and animals is an innovation.

The first section sets out the basic law relating to the shooting of deer.

                                    Page 3 of 5
Chapter 19 cites the 1998 Firearms Rules in setting out the responsibilities of

the certificate holder to take reasonable precautions for the safe custody of his

firearms and ammunition and whilst transporting firearms in vehicles.          A

browse through Chapter 19 will at least inform the stalker from which direction

the police are coming from on this subject.

Notices and Appeals are the subject of Chapter 21, but Appeals are complex

and the Guidance only briefly touches on the procedure.

The last four chapters of the Guidance have a slightly cosmopolitan flavour!

Chapter 26 touches on the position of Northern Ireland in relation to the

Firearms Acts.

Chapter 27 helps with Visitors’ Permit Procedure which may be useful for the

professional stalker with foreign clients or the generous stalking host wishing

to entertain a foreign friend in the stalking season.

Chapter 28 on the transport and export of firearms could be useful.

Finally relevant European law is mentioned in Chapter 29. Sections include

the E U Directive on the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms, the

European Firearms Pass (EFC) and the law relating to the purchase of

firearms and ammunition by E U residents, within the E.U.

Appendix 1 includes a list of contacts, which includes the BASC and BDS. To

our colleagues in these organisations, who have worked so hard to ensure the

massive improvement of this Guidance over its predecessor perhaps we

should say a heartfelt – thank you.

To my readers I say that if you do not yet recognise the significance of the

Guidance then just take my tip. This is a document to have on-line or to hand,

as you prefer, for reference and guidance and for you to appreciate better the

                                    Page 4 of 5
approach that your Firearms Authority should adopt in dealing with you as a

Certificate Holder.

David M.B. Barnes B.A.
Is a Shooting and Countryside Law Solicitor

Enquiries Tel. 07733 226091
Email: bb@shootinglaw.co.uk

                                Page 5 of 5

To top