The UK Gun Law is very complexted bellow is some of the frequently
asked questions about firearms licensing taken from the Home Office Guide on Firearms Licensing Law
1.What is meant by the term ‘firearm’?
‘Firearm’ means a lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other
missile can be discharged.
2. What are the basic principles of firearms law in the UK?
UK firearms policy is based on the fact that firearms are dangerous weapons and the State has
a duty to protect the public from their misuse. Gun ownership is a privilege, not a right. Firearms
control in the UK is among the toughest in the world, and as a result firearms offences continue to
make up a small proportion (less than 0.2%) of recorded crime [ONS 2012/13].
3. What kind of firearm may be licensed?
Some firearms, shotguns and rifles may be licensed and are held on a firearm or shotgun
certificate. Low powered air weapons are not licensed in England and Wales unless they are of a
type declared specially dangerous by the Firearms (Dangerous Air Weapons) Rules 1969 but there
are restrictions on their sale. An air weapon is “specially dangerous” if it is capable of discharging
a missile with kinetic energy in excess, in the case of an air pistol, of 6 foot lbs or, in the case of
other air weapons,12 foot lbs.
4. Can anyone apply for a firearm certificate?
Permission to possess or to purchase or acquire a firearm will be granted to an individual who is
assessed by the licensing authority, the police, as not posing a threat to public safety and having
good reason to own the firearm. Organisations such as target shooting clubs, museums and
firearms dealers must also apply for licences if they wish to possess or use firearms. Persons
who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years or more cannot possess a firearm or
ammunition (including antique firearms) at any time.
5. Who authorises firearm and shotgun certificates?
The police are the licensing authority for firearm and shotgun certificates as well as for firearms
dealers. The authority rests with local police forces rather than a central licensing authority
because of the local information that police will use to inform their judgement. Prohibited weapons
such as handguns are authorised by the Home Office on behalf of the Secretary of State.
6. How do the police decide if a person is fit to own a firearm?
To decide whether a person is fit to own a firearm, the licensing authority will conduct a number
of checks which will usually include interviews, visits to the person’s property, criminal records
checks and references from friends. In addition, the applicant’s GP may be contacted.
7. What is a good reason to own a firearm?
Applicants should be able to demonstrate to the licensing authority that they require their firearm
on a regular, legitimate basis for work, sport or leisure (including collections or research). Chief
Officers are able to exercise discretion over what constitutes a good reason, judging each case on
its own merits.
8. What does a firearm certificate cost?
From 6 April 2015, the fees for the different types of firearms certificates will be as outlined below.
Generally, certificates for firearms and shotguns are valid for five years. Those for registered
firearms dealers are valid for three years.
Grant of Firearm Certificate 88
Grant of a Shotgun Certificate 79.50
Renewal of Firearm Certificate 62
Renewal of a Shotgun Certificate 49
Registered Firearms Dealers – Grant or Renewal 200
Replacement of lost or stolen Firearm or Shotgun
Coterminous grant or renewal 90 / 65
Visitor permit (individual / group) 20 / 100
Registered Firearms Dealer Grant for Game Fair etc. 13
Variation (not like for like) 20
9. How are firearms stored?
The conditions of a firearm or shotgun certificate stipulate that guns must be stored securely so
as to prevent access by an unlicensed person. The manner in which they are stored depends on
the individual property and circumstances.
10. What happens to the firearms in the event of the death of
In the event of the death of a certificate holder the person inheriting the effects must surrender
or declare the weapons to the police or a registered firearms dealer. Failure to do so would
result in the inheritor being in breach of the law by having the firearms in their possession; it is
the responsibility of the inheritor to find out whether firearms are part of the deceased effects.
Registered firearms dealers will be able to advise on the value of the items and how best to
proceed in accordance with the inheritor’s wishes. Options include applying for a firearms licence,
selling/transferring the firearm (to a museum or collector) or destroying it.
11. What should I do if I have concerns about a firearm owner?
Any concerns should be reported to your local police force.
12.What is the government doing to prevent 3D printed guns
If someone were to possess, purchase, manufacture or sell a firearm or its component parts
otherwise than in accordance with the requirements of sections 1, 3 and 5 of the Firearms Act
1968, they would be liable to prosecution. We are working closely with our partners, including the
police and firearms experts, to assess other implications.