Or is it best to leave it at home on camping trips? Bill Harriman gives the legal answer ...
Camping with shotguns – legal or illegal?
Q: I’m planning on going camping with some friends when the weather gets warmer and we’re going to pitch our tents on some farmland where we have a roughshooting permission. The farmer is happy for us to camp there and carry out some pest control too. We all have shotgun licences but we were wondering whether it was legal to camp overnight with our shotguns. Is it legal to leave the guns in the car overnight – minus the foregrips – or can we not take the guns along? What does the law say about camping with shotguns?
A: When a shotgun is in use, being cleaned or repaired, the certificate holder is required to take “reasonable precautions” for its safe custody. The law does not tell you how to do this because each case will turn on its individual facts. For something to be “reasonable” in law, it must be reasonable in all of the circumstances that prevail at the time.
Dividing the gun into its barrels and the stock/action is a good idea because this stops a criminal obtaining a complete firearm. The car needs to be in view and, to be really safe, secure the stock and action to the interior with a cable lock or similar device. Lock the doors and set the alarm. If you keep the barrels and the ammunition with you then any criminal would have to do two things to get a complete firearm and its ammunition.
Beware of poachers
On that note, make sure that your security is not compromised by anyone finding out that you have a gun while camping. If you go to a local pub, don’t advertise the fact you all are going roughshooting. Be aware of poachers at night, as most gangs would relish the opportunity to steal a gun and cartridges. Get a really bright torch and keep it with you at all times. Similarly, a fully charged mobile phone kept on the person is a good idea. A really good low-tech early-warning system is tin cans strung on fishing wire — they don’t half rattle when tripped.