A reader who has been a council tenant for more than 20 years now has a problem. What's the legal advice?

Can I bring my self-defence firearm to the UK?

Q: I have a house in France and have just acquired a gun for self-defence. It is described as being non-lethal. Would it be okay to bring it to the UK for possible use?

A: Certainly not! In Britain any lethal barrelled-weapon counts as a firearm, and the fact the vendor describes it as non-lethal does not mean it would be non-lethal in the eyes of British law.

You do not describe the gun, but I think you may be referring to one of the double-barrelled 12 bore pistols that are on sale in France and fit this description. They are sold with fewer formalities than for a shotgun or rifle.

I have not been able to examine one in detail but those I have seen advertised for sale fire a 2in / 12 bore cartridge with a single rubber bullet, which probably has a muzzle energy in excess of the accepted British limit for lethality.

Cartridges containing less than five pellets have to be on a firearm certificate and you certainly won’t have self-defence accepted as a good reason for being allowed to have them here. Moreover, if your gun is similar to the ones I have seen it would fall within the definition of a pistol and be banned in this country.

It is perfectly legal to buy them in France, but I would be careful about using it as French law doesn’t give you an unfettered right to shoot would-be villains. Be very sure of your legal position before you point it at somebody and pull the trigger.

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