If you’re recently bereaved and the departed owned a shotgun or firearm you may be wondering what you should do legally. What’s the position when the owner dies (and you yourself do not have a shotgun or firearm licence).


A bereavement is traumatic enough as it is without being worried about being in breach of the law.

So we have asked our legal expert Bill Harriman on what to do. He advises:

“Disposing of a deceased person’s effects is one of the most difficult and traumatic situations facing a bereaved person. We owe it to those whom we leave behind to ensure that they have clear, practical guidance about what to do with our guns.

“I have always found police licensing departments to be sympathetic and unfailingly helpful to people in this situation. Have a word with the firearms licensing manager for your locality who will be only too happy to help.

“In the meantime, the advice is for the deceased’s personal representative to apply for a Section 7 temporary permit. No licensing department will refuse in such circumstances.”

What is a Section 7 temporary permit?

This temporary permit authorises your personal representatives to be in lawful possession of your guns until they decide what to do. You can get a Section 7 free of charge – we suggest you ask for one for a period of three months.

There is a comprehensive information sheet from the British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) which covers the topic of bereavement and unlicensed firearms in detail which you will find very helpful in answering your questions.

In summary, here is what it advises:

  • If you own firearms or shotguns, you can help your executor or next of kin by creating a large envelope to be opened in the event of your death.
  • Inside you need to put: instructions to write to the firearms licensing department, contact details for the firearms licensing department, a list of the guns you own and whether you have loaned any, copies of your shotgun and firearms certificates and details of where to source the originals, information on where the keys to your gun cabinet are stored.
  • It’s also a good idea to include contact details of a friend who would look after your guns until a decision is made (they will need to be the holder of the temporary permit).

You can read the information sheet from BASC here in full.