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Do I need to keep my guns at home for a shotgun licence?

Bill Harriman advises two concerned gun owners

Gun security

It is important to ensure that the keys to a gun cabinet are stored securely, ideally in a safe

Q: Does my gun storage need to be at my home address? I currently live in a bedsit and I can’t keep my guns there, but my girlfriend lives in a secure semi-detached house which is alarmed and would provide a secure environment.

The key would be kept hidden at my girlfriend’s but she would be unaware as to where it was kept. I spend a lot of my time with my girlfriend but due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to live together.  I understand the law is extremely strict with gun licences so I am unsure as to where I stand in this situation. Please can you give me some advice? Obviously I would install a suitable gun cabinet.)

Gun storage – the legal side

A: You don’t have to keep your guns at your home address. Plenty of gun owners don’t. (You might also like to read where should you keep the keys to your gun safe.)

However you must apply to the police force responsible for the area in which you live, rather than that where the guns are kept. Whether the police will be happy with you keeping guns in a property where there is no resident certificate holder is another matter. (Read our list of the best gun safes.) In addition, you cannot leave the gun cabinet key at your girlfriend’s house.

My advice is to apply to the police force and see what they say. The fee is only charged if a certificate is granted so there is no cost to you if it is refused. Another option would be for your girlfriend to apply for a certificate, which would have your guns on it as well as them being on your own. (She doesn’t need to be an active shooter in order to have a certificate.)
Either way it is the job of the police to make it as easy as possible for you to get a certificate and they should be able to come to some arrangement that will enable you to do so.

I am interested that you say you can’t keep your guns in your bedsit and you don’t say why. I advise you to take a careful look at your tenancy agreement. You may discover that it does not forbid you having a gun cabinet. Have a chat with your landlord and see what they  say.


You will need to be able to store your guns securely

Is the firearms officer right?

Q: I am currently in the process of renewing my shotgun certificate. When the firearms enquiry officer (FEO) came round, one of the questions she asked was who had access to my house. I told her that it was just me, my wife and our cleaning lady, who comes twice a week. She then said that I had to be present when the cleaner was there in case she found the cabinet and broke into it. This 
is not possible because both 
my wife and I work. Is the FEO right to say this?

A: You can safely ignore this piece of arrant nonsense. From time to time, there are people that we trust to be alone and unsupervised 
in our homes — builders, dog sitters, cleaners and such like. The decision to admit them when we are not at home is ours alone based on our knowledge of them. It is certainly not the preserve of some very junior police employee to dictate as to whom we give access to our homes.

Ensure your shotgun(s) are locked in the cabinet and make sure you have not left any cabinet keys in the house. I always think it is a good idea to keep a set with you and a spare set at work (or somewhere else completely separate). That way someone intent on attacking your cabinet has no better access to it than a burglar who has broken in.

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.