Bill Harriman gives the legal low-down
Q: Is it legal to carry a shotgun on a motorcycle from home to my shoot? My firearms enquiry officer says that if I had an accident the gun would be dropped on the road and could be taken by a member of the public. I would be prosecuted if that happened.
A: Section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968 requires that anyone who takes a firearm into a public place must have a reasonable excuse for doing so. Taking your gun to and from somewhere that you have permission to shoot on is reasonable. How you transport the gun is a matter for you. It is quite lawful to carry a gun in a slip on your back while riding your motorbike.
That said, I always urge discretion in case someone panics and calls the police. Camouflage is always a good idea; a leg-of-mutton gunslip is a decent choice as it is not gun shaped. It is also probably safer because you do not have a long barrel hanging down behind you while you ride.
As for the gun being pitched into the road after an accident, this is not confined to motorbikes in accidents. The same could happen in a car crash, particularly from an open-top car. The notion that you might be prosecuted thereafter is risible and the firearms enquiry officer should know better than to peddle such nonsense.
Where should I store my shotgun during shoot lunches?
Q: At a shoot lunch we generally tend to take our guns into the pub with us. However I have spoken to a firearms offer who says it’s best to leave them hidden in our cars. What’s best, do you think?
A:It is one of the shortcomings of the firearms legislation that there is no simple answer to this question. The law requires guns to be stored securely so as to prevent, as far as is reasonably practical, unauthorised access.
Unfortunately there is no definition of ‘stored securely’ or ‘reasonably practical’.
If a gun is left unattended it is essential that a key component such as the bolt or fore-end is removed and kept in your pocket. Never let yourself get into the dangerous position of allowing an intact gun to be stolen from a car. If that happens, you can expect little sympathy from the police.
However, if you have taken reasonable precautions to protect your gun and store it securely, you will be in a strong position if any attempt is make to revoke your shotgun certificate.
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If the police are being unreasonable, a good barrister will argue your case effectively.
Nowadays most Guns take their shotguns into the pub where they can keep a close eye on them. If you don’t do that, take the above advice, remove the bolt or fore-end and keep it about your person, then lock the gun out of sight in your car.