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What’s the law on inheriting a shotgun?

A relative or friend has died and left you a gun. What happens next?

Bespoke shotgun from Purdey £132,000

Bespoke shotgun from Purdey £132,000

I recently advised a reader about inheriting a shotgun.

After an uncle’s death he was left his shotgun, a lovely Charles Lancaster. Being a keen Shot himself he was eager to take it on but wasn’t sure how to transfer it to his shotgun certificate. 

Here’s what I advised.

Action to take on inheriting a shotgun

I am assuming that you can access your late uncle’s gun cabinet.

  • If so, complete Table 2 on your shotgun certificate to record the transfer.
  • Insert the date at column A, write “given” at column B, the details of the gun, including its serial number, at C, and your late uncle’s name and address at D.
  • If you have access to your late uncle’s certificate, insert the certificate number at E. As it is you and not your uncle who is certifying that the details are correct, you may sign and date column F.

Inform the police licensing department that issued your certificate within seven days and advise the police force that issued your uncle’s certificate if it is not the same force as yours. If they are not already aware of it, advise them of your uncle’s death. The gun will then be added to your records. You are lucky to inherit such a fine gun.

What should you do with a shotgun after the owner dies? 

Another reader had a different issue with guns after a bereavement.

Q: Some months after my father passed away the police told my mother that because his shotgun certificate had lapsed she should hand his gun to the local gunshop. They took care of its disposal.

My mother is now about to move and in the attic we found a .410 shotgun, which we believe belonged to my grandfather. Will we have to hand in this gun, too? Is it possible to register this gun on my own shotgun certificate and how do I go about it?

A: There is no problem retaining your grandfather’s gun in the circumstances you describe.

You should enter the details on your shotgun certificate and send a notification to your local police. Some forces have a special form for this but a letter will do. In either case use recorded delivery. You should also e mail the information. Include a brief explanation of how the gun came to be in your hands.

In fact, you could have kept your father’s gun at the time he died.