Q: A firearms officer has told me I have no chance of getting a shotgun certificate because of a previous custodial sentence of 4 1⁄2 years for violence. This offence happened 26 years ago and as I regret the actions of my youth (I was 18 at the time) I feel my life has changed dramatically since.
… I no longer live in the area where my crime was committed or see any of the so-called friends I associated with at the time. I now have a family and a new life. I have been employed as a head gardener/estate manager for over 11 years and have been involved in beating on a shoot for longer, though I have never handled a gun in this time.
I have been offered shoots which I have turned down as I have never owned a gun. I am now 44 and believe the time is right to progress to shooting (pheasant, duck, pigeon and clay). I want to do this legally and don’t want to ‘get around the law’.
If this is set in stone then I accept the outcome and will find an alternative way to continue enjoying country sports. I just wonder if there is a way I can appeal against this decision given the time that has passed, my change of life and my career in estate management.
A: Technically what the FEO says is correct but in practice things are not so simple. The law does allow for you to appeal to the Crown Court (Sheriff if you live in Scotland) to have a prohibition lifted. Without knowing more precisely about your circumstances it’s difficult to say what the outcome might be.
If you have led a blameless life since you were released from prison then I think there has to be a reasonable chance. You need proper legal advice from someone who specialises in firearms law.
I suggest you get in touch with Laura Saunsbury (LSaunsbury@lewisnedas.co.uk) She is a solicitor specialising in the subject.
Alternatively you could do a search on the internet to look for other solicitors handling firearms cases. You are quite right in not wanting to ‘get around the law’ as there could be serious consequences even if you were to borrow a gun. The usual dispensations which allow people to shoot without a certificate do not apply in your case.