Q: My friend keeps his shotguns in a safe and his wife has applied for her licence. If she gets a gun and keeps it in his safe, will she need all his guns on her licence and will he need hers on his?

A: It always makes practical sense for cohabitees to have each other’s shotguns listed on both their individual certificates. If that is done, there never can be any question about either party having access to the other’s shotguns. The same holds true for Section 1 Firearms but then both parties will have to satisfy the “good reason” test for each and every firearm.

The 72 hour window

It is less important with shotguns as the law allows a certificate holder to lend a gun to another certificate holder for 72 hours without the need to notify the police that a transfer has taken place. The 72-hour period is infinitely renewable either in person, by phone, text or email. Bear in mind that the statutory duties relating to the shotguns will then devolve to both parties, especially the safe-keeping condition.

It is important that both people know where the shotguns to which their certificate relates are at any time. I have heard horror stories when one party says to the other, “I thought you had put the guns away, dear.”

In practice, the police treat the situation pragmatically and there is the concept of the “principal holder”. The computer will note this and there will be a note to the effect that “Mr A’s shotguns are also on Mrs A’s certificate”.