A reader has found it difficult to add guns to his firearms certificate. What should he do?
Q: I have held a shotgun certificate for 40 years, initially for roughshooting, but in recent years, mainly for skeet and DTL. Two years ago I decided that I would like to add FAC to my shooting disciplines and joined my local shooting club as an airgun member, being added to the waiting list for their firearms section and firearms handling course. This was a prerequisite of becoming a full member.
In June of last year I was invited to take part in the club’s excellent 10-week firearm course during which I fired everything from .22 RF to .303 including blackpowder and an AK47. I passed with flying colours. I then applied to our local firearms licensing division and eventually received my FAC. However, my FAC is very restrictive in that I can only possess one each of the following: .22 RF, .22 moderator, .357, .44 and FAC multi-shot shotgun. I am only allowed to shoot target at my shooting club. Is this type of restriction normal or should I challenge this? I would like to add a .22 semi-auto as well as a .243 bolt action to my FAC.
Adding guns to a firearms certificate
It is hard to make any meaningful comment about your firearms certificate without seeing it However, here are some general points.
Every firearm which a firearms certificate authorises has to be justified by what is known as the “good reason” test as per Section 27(1) of the 1968 Firearms Act. Good reason must be substantial. It generally encompasses the intent to use a firearm for a particular purpose and somewhere to do that.
Good reason becomes more difficult to satisfy where increasing numbers of similar firearms are concerned.
Regarding your particular certificate, you must have provided good reason for the five firearms to which your certificate refers.
If you applied for a .22 self-loading rifle and a .243 rifle as well and they were refused without explanation, then this is unacceptable. Full written reasons for any refusal must be given as you have a right to appeal to the Crown Court about this decision.
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I can see no reason why you should not have a self-loading .22 rifle for different types of target shooting disciplines as well. The same goes for the .243. (I would prefer a .308/7.62mm as ammunition is easier to get and cheaper. Don’t forget, it is against the law to use expanding ammunition for target shooting. There are solid .243 bullets available but they seem to be quite hard to come by). However, you must prove that you have good reason for requesting these two rifles.
The restriction limiting your firearms to your shooting club range is unreasonable. You should return the certificate and ask for Condition 9 from Appendix 3 of the Home Office guide on firearm licensing law to be applied. This should say that the firearms to which the certificate relate shall be used for target shooting, and only while a member of your shooting club, on ranges which are legally and safely constructed and maintained. This does not restrict where you can use the rifles but as they are solely for target shooting, you have to be a member of an approved club to possess them.
Last week it was announced that a new Home Office consultation on firearms is underway and shooters are invited to have their say. It might be a good time to put your thoughts across.