Q: I would like to get a shotgun and, with a limited budget, I have decided to buy one second-hand. I have seen a private advert for a model that I like the sound of and the seller sounds reputable (he is known to several of my shooting friends). Is there anything I should be aware of before going ahead with a private purchase?

A: I always think it is a good idea to buy a gun from a dealer rather than from a friend or private person’s advert. Admittedly you will be paying for the dealer’s profit, but this does at least give you the security of buying a gun whose state has been properly assessed and described. Also, if anything does go wrong, it is generally more effective to sue a dealer who will be protective of his reputation and vulnerable to the attentions of the police. It could easily be argued that by selling a gun in a dangerous condition, the dealer “cannot be permitted to carry on business as a  rearms dealer without danger to the public safety or to the peace”.