A reader found it difficult to add guns to his Firearms Certificate.

Q: I have held a shotgun certificate for 40 years, initially for roughshooting, but in recent years, mainly for skeet and DTL. Two years ago I decided that I would like to add FAC to my shooting disciplines and joined Worcester Norton Shooting Club as an airgun member, being added to the waiting list for their firearms section and firearms handling course. This was a prerequisite of becoming a full member.

In June of last year I was invited to take part in the club’s excellent 10-week firearm course during which I fired everything from .22 RF to .303 including blackpowder and an AK47. I passed with flying colours. I then applied to West Mercia firearms licensing division and eventually received my FAC. However, my FAC is very restrictive in that I can only possess one each of the following: .22 RF, .22 moderator, .357, .44 and FAC multi-shot shotgun. I am only allowed to shoot target at WNSC. Is this type of restriction normal or should I challenge this? I would like to add a .22 semi-auto as well as a .243 bolt action to my FAC.

Bill Harriman, BASC’s head of firearms and global authority on guns advised: 

Without seeing the actual wording of your certificate, it is hard to make any meaningful comment about it. However, here are some general points.

Every firearm which a Firearms Certificate authorises has to be justified by what is known as the “good reason” test as per Section 27(1) of the 1968 Firearms act. Good reason means what it says. it must be substantial, i.e. have substance to it. Good reason generally encompasses the intent to use a firearm for a particular purpose and somewhere to do that. That said, it is not confined by need, nor equated to desire. Settled law says that when considering an applicant’s “good reason” the police must approach the Firearms Certificates can often be unfairly restrictive application from the standpoint of the applicant, rather than that of an objector. good reason becomes more difficult to satisfy where increasing numbers of similar firearms are concerned.

Going on to your particular certificate, you must have provided good reason for the five firearms to which your certificate refers. if you applied for a .22 self-loading rifle and a .243 rifle as well and they were refused without explanation, then this is unacceptable. Full written reasons
for any refusal must be given as you have a right to appeal to the Crown Court about this decision. however, some licensing departments are not good when it comes to doing this and often take a unilateral decision without even speaking to the applicant about it.

I can see no reason why you should not have a self-loading .22 rifle for different types of target shooting disciplines as well. the same goes for the .243. (i would prefer a .308/7.62mm as ammunition is easier to get and cheaper. Don’t forget, it is against the law to use expanding ammunition for target shooting. There are solid .243 bullets available but they seem to be quite hard to come by). however, you must prove that you have good reason for requesting these two rifles.

The restriction limiting your firearms to the Worcester Norton Club range is unreasonable. You should return the certificate and ask for Condition 9 from Appendix 3 of the Home Office guide on Firearm Licensing Law to be applied. This should say that the firearms to which the certificate relate shall be used for target shooting, and only while a member of Worcester norton Shooting Club on ranges which are legally and safely constructed and maintained. This does not restrict where you can use the rifles but as they are solely for target shooting, you have to be a member of an approved club to possess them.