Q: I have rifles and shotguns on my licences. My wife is applying for her shotgun licence and wants to store any shotguns she buys in my cabinet. I don't think it would be legal, as she could then access my rifles. What is the solution?

A: Every firearm and shotgun certificate carries a statutory condition which states that: “(a) The firearms and ammunition [or shotguns] to which the certificate relates must at all times (except in the circumstances set out in paragraph (b) below) be stored securely so as to prevent so far as is reasonably practicable, access to the firearms and ammunition [or shotguns] by an unauthorised person.”

The important words in this condition are “reasonably practicable”, which means that you have to do your best within your own individual circumstances to stop someone without a certificate getting hold of your guns.

Case law establishes that if you deliberately let another person who is not a certificate-holder have access to the keys or combination of your gun cabinet you commit an offence. This means that you must store your keys securely as well. However, if someone comes across your spare keys inadvertently, no offence is committed.

The Home Office recognises that people who live together will want to share security measures and issues sensible advice in its Guide on Firearms Licensing Law. Paragraph 19.19 states that: “With regard to shared security… separate security provisions to prevent access to firearms once in the cabinet should be made. Devices such as lockable high tensile steel cables are considered suitable for this purpose.”

A steel cable or chain through your rifle(s) trigger-guards satisfies the requirement to prevent your wife from having access to Section 1 firearms. If you have separate security provisions for your ammunition, consider storing the rifle’s bolt in it as well. It would be sensible for all the shotguns in the cabinet to be on both certificates.