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Can you legally destroy a shotgun?

Is it something you can DIY or do you have to pay a gunshop to do it? Bill Harriman enlightens our readers.

shooting party

Shooting party at sunset

Sometimes we have a gun that isn’t worth anything, doesn’t work and really doesn’t deserve any space in your gun cabinet. It may be one you inherited or one that you’ve had for many years that has outgrown its use.

So what should you do? Is it against the law to destroy a shotgun or if you follow certain rules, can you do it legally? It’s a question we’re asked fairly regularly by readers so we put it to Bill Harriman, Director of Firearms for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).  His answer is informative and useful.

Destroy a shotgun

You can legally destroy a shotgun

An unwanted inheritance

Q: I have inherited some shotguns from my late father. These include a badly pitted Belgian .410 single barrel that is not suitable for modern smokeless cartridges. Can I legally destroy a shotgun myself? Or do I have to 
get a dealer to do it for me?

A: Yes, it is quite legal to do this yourself. What I suggest you 
do is cut the barrel using an angle grinder with a thin metal cutting blade between the lumps at the breech, so as to destroy the chamber. Then cut the resulting tube into short lengths. Take the stock off the action and put the angle grinder blade through the action as close to the standing breech as you can, cutting 
it in half. Take a photo of the bits.

angle grinder

You’ll need an angle grinder for the job

Wrap the bits in sealed tape

By law you have to notify the 
police within seven days of destruction. Offer the police the opportunity to come and satisfy themselves that you have destroyed the gun. Ask them to do this within seven days if they want to do so. After seven days, wrap the bits up in a carrier bag sealed with tape and put them in the bin. That will stop inquisitive bin men seeing that you have disposed of a gun.

Keep a copy of the letter and photo. If you use email, it must be to the police-designated email address. Ask for a read receipt and keep a paper copy of all electronic correspondence. If there is ever any question in the future about what happened to the shotgun, you are bombproof. In any case the onus is on the police to prove that you did not tell them. As proving any negative is difficult in law, they will always have an uphill struggle to do this.