By Peter Glenser
Wednesday, 04 July 2012
I'm a student living in the centre of Cambridge and quite regularly cycle to shoot on land on the outskirts of the city where I have rights, or to our local clay ground.
My gun is always in its slip and over my shoulder but nevertheless I still get some rather interesting looks.
With the number of people in the streets around the centre I am waiting for the first person to call the police, worried that someone is wandering the streets with a gun.
What does the law state regarding either walking or cycling to a shoot as opposed to driving, and how could it affect me?
CARRYING A SHOTGUN IN PUBLIC
Not that long ago I found myself walking down Oxford Street having had lunch with an old friend. I’d lent him a shotgun a couple of days before, but hadn’t had time to catch up properly so this was a chance to kill two birds with one stone.
As I walked westwards after lunch I was firmly, but politely, taken by the arm by a man in plain clothes, who discreetly flashed a warrant card at me.
He wanted to know what was in my gunslip and to see my certificate.
I told him that it was a shotgun and that I had a certificate, which I would gladly show him but unfortunately it was in the slip with the gun.
He thanked me and wished me good day without any further fuss at all. I was probably lucky in that the officer knew the law.
There is no offence in having a shotgun with you in a public place.
It’s covered by Section 19 of the Firearms Act:
“A person commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him) he has with him in a public place a loaded shotgun or loaded air weapon, or any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with ammunition suitable for use in that firearm.”
So – not loaded, no offence. In fact it doesn’t even have to be in a slip.
There are two things that you might be able to do to ensure that your sporting afternoons remain undisturbed, though.
Firstly, does it really need to be carried in a gun slip?
Break it down, wrap the parts in something to protect them and put them into a rucksack – along with the slip if you like – and no one will be any the wiser.
Secondly, if you must cycle with a slipped gun it might be a good idea to telephone the force control room in advance and tell them what you are doing and when.
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