Advice & Guidance - Firearm and Shotgun Safety Tips
Safe Handling and Storage:
It is of paramount importance that firearms are always stored in a safe manner as detailed below:
- When not in use, always keep your firearm ⁄ shotgun safe and preferably locked away in your gun cabinet
- Never put a loaded firearm ⁄ shotgun away in your cabinet
- Always prove that a firearm ⁄ shotgun is unloaded as soon as you handle it
- Always prove that a firearm ⁄ shotgun is empty, before handing it to someone else, by offering it to him or her with the breech open
- Never load your firearm ⁄ shotgun indoors
- Never allow unauthorised persons access to your shotgun ⁄ firearm
- Never leave a firearm ⁄ shotgun, even unloaded, unattended
- Never stand a firearm ⁄ shotgun in such a position that it can fall or be knocked over
- Always keep your firearm/shotgun in its case or cover while transporting it
- Never transport a loaded firearm/shotgun
- If staying away from home overnight your shotgun / firearm should be stored, preferably with a Registered Firearms Dealer or in a secure cabinet of another suitable certificate holder
- If it is absolutely necessary to leave your firearm/shotgun in a vehicle, it must be stored out of sight, preferably in the locked boot. Consider taking a small part of the weapon, such as the fore-end, with you and always ensure that you lock the vehicle securely
- If this is a regular habit, have a lockable metal storage case welded inside the vehicle's boot
Shooters who use their firearms for hunting, deer stalking and vermin control etc. must ensure that they are using their firearms within the authorisation limits of their firearm certificates. Importantly, this includes where you are permitted to shoot. It is your responsibility to ensure that the land you are shooting on is assessed for the calibre and reason listed on your firearm certificate, or deemed suitable by the Chief Officer of Police for that area. Additionally, always ensure that you have permission from the land owner prior to shooting over their land.
Remember, unlike a shotgun, you cannot lend or borrow firearms. Normally you must hold the authority for a particular weapon, or your firearm certificate, in order to have it in your possession.
Members of approved target shooting clubs are subject to the discipline codes, rules and regulations laid down in their constitution.
Every responsible club will have safety as a top priority. Range Marshals should always be present to see that all members adhere to the rules and regulations and ensure that safety is not jeopardised.
Such rules and regulations are mostly common sense, or have come about because of a previous mishap.
- Abide by your club's rules and regulations
- Follow the directions of your instructor or range marshal
- Ensure it is safe to shoot, before pulling the trigger
Do not leave bits of oily rag in the bores of the gun with the intent of preventing rust. If your gun is properly cleaned and stored, this will not help and you could forget the rag is there.
- Carry a gun over your shoulder with the barrels pointing behind
- Carry a gun with the safety catch off
- Carry a gun with your finger on the trigger
- Carry a gun with the barrels pointed sideways into hedgerows, woodland or in any direction your common sense tells you is dangerous
- Never trust a safety catch, treat it only as a second line of defence as it could be faulty
- Never point a gun at anybody even if it is unloaded
- Never hand a gun to someone else without proving it
- Never put down a loaded gun
Guidance on Conducting a Clay Pigeon Shoot:
- There should be a zone extending to 275 metres from the shooting point in the direction of fire, which should be clearly defined
- Shot, broken or whole clay targets should not land on any areas where the public has access, or where permission from the owner of the land has not been granted
- No person who appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs should be allowed to be in possession of guns
- All guns should only be loaded when on the firing point
- Health & Safety regulations require that appropriate safety equipment must be made available to all parties requiring it
- Initial application should be made a reasonable time before the first such event is to take place (preferably at least four weeks)
- The organiser must be in a position to accept responsibility for safety at the event, and should do so
- The organiser of such an event has a liability in law, and is advised to have an appropriate form of insurance to cover any accidents, third party liability, employers’ liability etc, depending on the circumstances
- The period of validity for the exemption may vary dependant on individual/club circumstances and specific requirements should be discussed in detail with the Firearms Licensing Department
- You should be aware of the potential for noise pollution
- You may wish to consider conducting a risk assessment for the activity
Guidance on Firearms Act 1968, Section 11(6)
The law in relation to conducting a clay pigeon shooting event is quoted below, and some guidance on the operation of the event is also listed.
“A person may, without holding a shotgun certificate, use a shotgun at a time and place approved for shooting at artificial targets by the Chief Officer of Police for the area in which that place is situated”
- The organiser of any clay pigeon shoot at which persons who do not hold a shotgun certificate wish to shoot must apply to the Chief Officer for the area in which the shoot is to take place for an exemption under Section 11(6) of the Firearms Act
- This allows non certificate holders to possess shotguns at a time and place approved by the Chief Officer for shooting artificial targets which normally, though not exclusively, includes clay pigeons
- This exemption applies only to shotguns under Section 2 of the Firearms Act
- Any person under 15 years of age using a shotgun must be supervised by and adult over 21 years of age
- Prohibited persons as defined by Section 21 of the Firearms Act must not be permitted to be in possession of guns or ammunition
The changes in legislation have come about as forces across the UK report a steady increase in the number of air weapons and imitation firearms being misused, with young people injuring themselves unintentionally and others carrying these weapons to intimidate others.
The change also deals with a specific problem concerning air weapons that use a self-contained gas cartridge system, which are particularly vulnerable to conversion to fire live ammunition and have become popular with criminals.
The changes in legislation received Royal Assent on the 20th November 2003 and came into force on 21st January 2004.
The changes are outlined below:
Possession of an air weapon or imitation firearm in a public place:
This now adds to the list covered by the offence in section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968, of carrying a firearm in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.
No-one under the age of 18 will be allowed possession of an air weapon at any time, unless supervised by someone who is aged at least 21 years, or as part of a shooting club or gallery.
No offence will be committed under that section if a young person aged 14 - 17 is on private premises and has the consent of the occupier to have an air weapon with him / her. But, it is an offence for any young person who is using an air weapon on private property to fire any missile beyond the boundaries of the premises. A maximum penalty for this offence is currently £1,000.
It becomes an offence to give any air weapon or ammunition for it, as a gift to anyone under 18 years, unless it is for use only on private premises.
Prohibition of certain air weapons:
A ban has been placed on air weapons that use a self-contained gas cartridge system (SCGC). This means that they cannot be possessed, purchased, acquired, manufactured, sold or transferred without authority of the Secretary of State.
It is now an offence to possess an SCGC weapon without a firearm certificate.