A reader asks what the legal position is on carrying a shotgun in public. Is it lawful? Peter Glenser offers some advice


Q: How should I carry my shotgun in public? My gun is always in its slip and over my shoulder but nevertheless I still get some rather interesting looks when I walk around my local shopping centre. 

If I am walking or cycling to a shoot, rather than driving, what does the law require of me?

What the law says

Not that long ago I found myself walking down Oxford Street having had lunch with an old friend. I’d lent him a shotgun a couple of days before, but hadn’t had time to catch up properly so this was a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

As I walked westwards after lunch I was firmly, but politely, taken by the arm by a man in plain clothes, who discreetly flashed a warrant card at me.

He wanted to know what was in my gunslip and to see my certificate.

I told him that it was a shotgun and that I had a certificate, which I would gladly show him but unfortunately it was in the slip with the gun.

He thanked me and wished me good day without any further fuss at all. I was probably lucky in that the officer knew the law.

There is no offence in having a shotgun with you in a public place.

It’s covered by Section 19 of the Firearms Act which says:

“A person commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him) he has with him in a public place

(a) a loaded shot gun

(b) an air weapon (whether loaded or not)

(c) any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with ammunition suitable for use in that firearm, or

(d) an imitation firearm.”

So, not loaded, no offence. In fact it doesn’t even have to be in a slip.

In fact, you might like to rethink the gun slip.

Break the shotgun down, wrap the parts in something to protect them and put them into a rucksack, along with the slip if you like, and no one will be any the wiser.  (Bill Harriman, our legal expert says it’s a good idea to never carry a gun in public in a gun-shaped case – it only attracts attention.)

Secondly, if you must cycle with a slipped gun it might be a good idea to telephone the force control room in advance and tell them what you are doing and when.