Generally speaking, all guns are firearms. They fall under the same legislation for licensing purposes. This section answers some common questions about the firearms and gun law in the United Kingdom.
The design differences in BB guns mean they may or may not classify as a firearm. Even so, the police say that most BB guns would not be suitable for young children.
BB guns fire aluminium or plastic balls using compressed air or an electrical system. Thus, they may or may not get classified as a firearm.
Stun guns are in fact prohibited weapons. They can discharge a large voltage of electricity into the target. The electrical discharge renders the victim incapable of movement for a short period of time. It is an offence in the United Kingdom to possess a stun gun.
A stun gun is a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. UK law on stun guns does not allow people to buy them abroad and import or mail them back into the United Kingdom. Doing so is illegal and severe penalties would apply.
Being found in possession of a stun gun means you could face up to ten (10) years imprisonment. You would need authority from the Secretary of State to possess, import, or sell any type of stun gun.
Disposing of unwanted section 1 ammunition must follow set procedures. You can dispose of ammunition or firearm by either:
Note: UK firearms and gun laws do not allow you to dispose of unwanted section 1 ammunition yourself.
In fact United Kingdom law does allow you to have an imitation firearm. But, possessing an imitation firearm in a public place would be against the law. It is also illegal to manufacture, sell, or import a realistic imitation weapon.
Note: An exception may apply if the person in possession can prove a valid reason for having it. Exceptions may also apply for offensive weapons used in film making, historical re-enactments, and theatrical productions.
Possessing an article which is capable of being used to convert an imitation firearm is also an offence. An example would be where a person intends to use the article (by itself or with other articles) to convert such a firearm. The UK gun law exempts registered firearms dealers from this particular offence.
The definition of an imitation firearm is 'anything, which has the appearance of a firearm'. Thus, it may include toy guns. Many imitation weapons are very realistic in design and shape. It would be difficult to be sure whether it is genuine or not until it actually gets seized.
A Taser is a weapon that is capable of discharging an electrical current. As such, it gets classified as a prohibited firearm. In the UK, it is an offence to acquire, possess, purchase, manufacture, sell or transfer a Taser. Exceptions apply where there is lawful authority to do so.
Even so, lawful authority for Tasers would never be granted to any member of the public. The legitimacy of Taser possession and use goes to specified bodies only (e.g. UK Police forces).
Note: Members of the police have the legal power to carry and use Tasers. But, only highly-trained officers can use them and only in instances where they have authorisation to do so. All Taser use by all Police officers gets monitored and reported.
A person may also use a shotgun on private premises in certain circumstances. A person without a licence may borrow a shotgun from another person on private premises providing:
A person borrowing a shotgun on private premises may also purchase or acquire ammunition on the premises during the time the firearm is borrowed. This only applies if the ammunition is for use with the borrowed firearm, allowed by the lender's certificate, and it complies with any related conditions in the certificate.
Rendering a firearm incapable of discharging any shot, bullet, or other missile makes it a deactivated weapon. Thus, it ceases to be a firearm if both:
The marks derive from one of only two proof houses in the United Kingdom and refer to either:
Note: Every deactivated weapon must have a certificate stating that deactivation work got carried out on it. But, it is not the same as a conversion. A converted weapon may still fire, whereas a deactivated one may not.
It is an offence to make a defectively deactivated gun or weapon available for sale or as a gift to another person. A weapon becomes a defectively deactivated weapon if:
Note: The offence would not apply if the weapon gets sold (or given as a gift) by a museum, to another museum, providing they both have a museum firearms licence.
The classification of a restricted shotgun would be of either:
Shotguns with a fixed magazine that can hold more than two cartridges fall under Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968. Thus means they would be subject to the restriction of a firearm certificate.
In fact, antique firearms are not defined in the UK firearm and gun laws. But, Home Office guidelines suggest you may consider the following as an antique firearm:
Any 'antique firearm' must get kept purely as a curio or an ornament and must not get fired. As such, there is no ammunition authorised for this type of weapon.
Where modern ready-made ammunition is easily acquired and used, then the weapon would not get considered as an antique. This is police guidance issued by the Home Office. But, a court of law would make the final decision - where necessary.
The certificate (recorded with the police) must show authorisation to shoot any antique shotgun or firearm. Even so, each case gets dealt with on its merits. Your local police force can offer further advice on individual weapons.
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Answers to Police Questions about Firearms and Gun Law in the United Kingdom
The police treat all calls involving firearms as if it is a genuine firearm. Thus, waving an imitation firearm around could mean you end up surrounded by firearms officers who would be pointing real weapons in your direction.