Safe as houses: we’ll keep you in step with gun storage laws

More than 30 pieces of UK legislation cover the ownership and storage of firearms. Safety Storage Centre provides guidance on the specialised area of acceptable gun cabinet rules and regulations to keep you on the right side of the law.

The most robust firearms licensing system in the world is to be found in the UK, where there are almost 800,000 licences for firearms and shotguns.

That’s not the number of weapons in the country, just the number of people entitled to have them, because it’s perfectly acceptable to have more than one weapon on the same licence, although each and every one must be recorded by type, size and serial number.

34 individual pieces of legislation

Firearms licensing laws have been subject to significant change over the last 12 years, which has led the Home Office to issue its latest guidance, bringing together the 34 separate pieces of legislation involved in responsible gun ownership. They are found in the Guide on Firearms Licensing Law, which covers every imaginable scenario in its 255 pages, and builds on the Firearms Act 1968.

In his foreword to the document the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green, pictured, makes it clear why such tight firearms law is required:

Damian Green“It is only in an extremely small minority of cases that legally held firearms are misused. However, the results can be devastating both for the immediate families and communities around them. I believe that the ownership of any firearm is a privilege and not a right, and that public safety must be paramount. “Whilst we have the most robust firearms licensing system in the world, we can always strive to be more efficient, and ensure the licensing process is practical and safe as possible.”

The document bringing all this legislation together includes three pages of concise detail about storage of firearms, including details of the gun cabinet they’re to be stored in, and the locks that must be used to secure them. It includes a number of references to British and CEN standards, as well as details about the materials they should be made from.

It’s potentially a bit of a maze, but the Safety Storage Centre has stepped in to assist you by offering a range of gun cabinets that comply with all the regulations, and will be approved by the Police – as all licence holders know, the law requires that your application includes a personal visit by the Police to make sure you’re a suitable person to have a firearm or shotgun.

Firearm storage standards

The British Standard states that you need to look out for a BS7558:1992 standard shotgun cabinet. It must have a seven-lever lock that meets BS3621 standard or it can be a padlock which has a Grade 4 CEN 12320:1997 standard.

You’ll find that some of the locks on cabinets we offer go beyond what’s required by law, making them even more secure.

The products we offer take account of the fact that you’ve invested heavily in specialist equipment, so the range includes padded gun dividers and floor mats, as well as additional lockable compartments to allow storage of other equipment and ammunition.

View our full range of gun cabinets and safes.

How to store firearms and shotguns securely

Gun CabinetLaws covering the storage of firearms, shotguns and their ammunition are as strict as those covering their ownership, having been designed to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. Making sure the storage of all kinds of firearms and shotguns is properly secure places strict requirements on their owners, as you’ll see in our guide to storage of firearms.

In summary, the Firearms Rules (1998) say weapons must be stored securely to prevent them being taken or used by ‘unauthorised people’, with a penalty of up to six months in prison for failure to comply.

An ‘unauthorised person’ is anyone without a gun licence or shotgun certificate, no matter how responsible and trustworthy they might otherwise appear to be. The rules do not specify precisely what ‘stored securely’ means, but here we can take advice from the Home Office, which recommends locked gun cabinets, gun safes or similar secure containers, and includes a gun room or cellar in its list of acceptable options.

When buying a gun cabinet, it’s important to be sure that it is up to the standards required by the relevant British Standard – BS7558:1992. If it is then acceptance by the Police is guaranteed, subject to meeting the requirements of the Firearms Act of 1968 and subsequent amendments.

Keeping your Gun Safe

Not just an ordinary object, a gun in any hand is a deadly weapon; making its safe storage of paramount importance.

A gun cabinet will provide the right amount of protection needed to prevent a gun from falling in unauthorised hands.

A simple search on the Internet will display many tragic instances in which children have Gun Safesgained access to an incorrectly stored gun, and subsequently shot either themselves or someone else.

These accidents can easily be prevented with a secure gun cabinet.

There are a number of different variations of gun cabinet currently available on the market; each will provide a significant amount of security for the weapon.

Metal gun cabinets, however, are amongst the most popular as they provide a thick shell to protect a gun from being damaged or stolen; some will also feature a combination lock – providing an even greater level of protection.

Gun Cabinets – How do you use yours?

The shotgun is one the most popular guns of choice for recreational hunting activities such as Pheasant shoots. In Great Britain alone the British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) have estimated that there are 1.4 million legally held Shotguns.

As a deadly weapon, it is vital that shotgun owners ensure that there weapon is secured when not in use. The legally appropriate manner of storage is in a gun cabinet.

When stored away, the BASC state that only the owner should have access to the cabinet’s keys. Shotgun owners require a special certificate, meaning that all responsibility for that weapon falls solely on them – so it is extremely important to ensure that the unauthorised don’t have any access.

Ammunition should be stored separately from the guns; whilst the law does not state that shotgun cartridges need to be stored away separately, it is good practice to ensure that they are.

Like the shotgun itself, the cartridges should be stored away in dry conditions, away from children.

Adhering to these rules will limit the potential risk of a fatal gun-related accident occurring.

Keep your guns under lock and key

The Safety Storage Centre

Whether you collect guns or use them for hunting, the safe storage of your prized possessions is really important.

If you have children, it’s imperative to keep these potentially dangerous weapons out the way. Indeed, there are few reasons not to get a gun cabinet to ensure your guns stay safe.

Gun storage doesn’t just keep your weapons out of sight and out of the hands of the wrong people, either, they can help protect them against the elements and damage, too.

Some storage offers flood and fire protection, which is great for peace of mind if the worst case scenario ever materialises.

Of course, most gun owners are very responsible and take every precaution to ensure their collection poses no danger to anyone. Adding a gun cabinet, or upgrading your existing one, is a great way to add extra security to your arrangements.

No matter whether you have collected handguns, rifles or shotguns, there are a range of cases that will keep your weapons safe.

With foam padding and rubber fixtures to stop guns getting scratched, lockable compartments and holders for rods and ammunition, and extra-secure bolts, locks and, even biometric entry systems, a gun cabinet is a very sound investment.

It’s important to get a cabinet which meets a strong security grade, and be sure of your space requirements if your weapons are fitted with scopes or silencers. Guns get a bad press when they get misused: all the more reason to make extra sure yours are safe.

Information brought to you by the Safety Storage Centre, providers of safe storage solutions for the workplace and home

Interesting facts to know about the Glorious Twelfth

Last Friday the 12th August is the most anticipated date on the calendar for game shooting enthusiasts. The arrival of the Glorious Twelfth is the signal for thousands of would be game hunters to dust down the contents of their gun cabinets and ammunition boxes and head for the moorlands of northern England and Scotland to declare open season on the Red Grouse “Lagopus Lagopus Scoticus”.

Grouse shoot in the Dales

Let’s face it the vast majority have not and never will eat grouse let alone see one alive, unless you count the one on the Whisky Ad of the same name, but there are some interesting facts about the 12th August you maybe didn’t know.

On the 12th August –

30BC The gloriously beautiful (allegedly) Cleopatra VII, the last ruler of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, committed suicide reportedly by means of a snake bite.

1762 The future George IV, Hanoverian King of England was born on this day. He reigned from 1820 until his death in 1830. Flamboyant and a big spender he was not that popular but gets brownie points for building the glorious Royal Pavilion at Brighton.

1831 The Game Act was passed to law allowing the shooting of Red Grouse and Ptarmigan between the 12th August and December 10th each year. But did you know that not all game birds can be shot from this day, for most the season begins on 1st September and for Woodcock and Pheasant it is October 1st. As the Game Act prohibits shooting on a Sunday in some years (e.g. 2001 and 2007) we have a Glorious 13th August.

1898 Hawaii and all its glorious beaches were annexed to become part of the United States of America.

1908 Ford Motor Company unveiled the first Model T motor car – a glorious classic.

1956 Canadian actor William Shatner (Captain Kirk in Star Trek) married Gloria Brink and on the same date 3 years later married Gloria Rand. Glory Glory!!

1960 Echo 1, the first ever communications satellite, was launched and on the same date in 1977 the Space Shuttle Enterprise made its first atmospheric flight. Glorious days for NASA.

1966 The Beatles began their last ever tour starting with a gig in Chicago. John Lennon had to apologise for boasting that the band were more popular than Christ in all his Glory.

1981 IBM released its first personal computer, the IBM 5150 which with 64 kb of RAM, a single 5 1/4″ floppy drive and a dodgy monitor cost $3,005 or £1500 in old money. Nothing glorious about that but at the time just 30 years ago it was state of the art.

Any other interesting facts about 12th August?

Transporting Firearms

I have previously provided a summary of the current secure storage requirement needed for general storage of firearms and ammunition in the home. Of course most gun owners will at some point need to transport their firearm to a shoot or gun club.  When transporting in a vehicle or on public transport you must exercise a duty of care to ensure the firearm, ammunition or shotgun is kept safe. By taking the following precautions you can demonstrate to the Firearms Officer that you meet this duty of care.

Shotgun Storage Safes and CabinetsKeep your shotgun in an appropriate case or cover whilst transporting it and place it out of sight, preferably in the locked boot or other secure load carrying area of the vehicle. You should never transport a loaded shotgun and the ammunition should ideally be stored separately again in a locked compartment hidden from plain sight.

Vehicles used frequently, particularly those used for transporting large numbers of firearms, should preferably be fitted with an immobiliser and /or alarm with provision for securing the shotgun to the structure of the vehicle in a purpose made security case or attached to the frame by a steel clamp.

If you leave your firearm in an unattended vehicle for any reason remove the firing mechanism or other vital part of the firearm such as the fore-end of a shotgun and keep it on your person. It is important when taking a shotgun to a location that involves an overnight stay that you ensure in advance that the premises has secure storage facilities. Leaving your firearm in the care of a hotel or friends house, even in a safe will expose them to a charge of unlawful possession unless they are also certificate holders.

The above safety recommendations apply equally to the transportation of Section 1 firearms. Section 1 firearms include rifles, any shotgun with a barrel shorter than 24″ or a semi-auto or pump-action gun and any shotgun with a detachable magazine. Air rifles which exceed the 12ft/lb power output limit are also considered ‘Section 1’ firearms.  Although there is no specific security requirement for air weapons owners are advised to store them securely so that they may not be stolen or misused by another person so generally you are advised to make no real distinction between air rifles and more powerful guns for which you need a licence – they are all considered firearms.

You can transport a gun on public transport provided that it is held in a secure gun case or slip cover, is unloaded and the firing mechanism is removed and held separately so the gun cannot be fired. The firearm should remain with the certificate holder at all times other than when transporting by plane although another shotgun certificate holder may transport or borrow your shotgun without entering it onto their certificate, providing they are in possession of the gun for less than 72 hours. If they are in possession for longer the gun must be entered onto their certificate and the local firearms licensing officer informed.

Of course none of the above applies to handguns, loosely defined as any firearm with an overall length of less than 30 cm, as ownership is against the law in England other than under exceptional circumstances.

Gun Safety

Some readers who are holders of firearms certificates may not be aware of the implications of the legal precedent set by the Court of Appeal case that I came upon recently involving a Mr Farrer back in 1999.

Mr Farrer, a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County of Essex no less and a pillar of the community kept his shotgun in a purpose made police approved gun cabinet at his house in Essex where his aged mother also lived in an adjacent cottage. As is their right firearms officers called unannounced to confirm the gun was being stored safely in compliance with the Firearms legislation.

Mr Farrer was not at home so the mother, who knew where the key was, kindly offered to open the cabinet for inspection. On hearing of this the Chief Constable revoked Mr Farrer’s gun licence. The reason for this revocation was that he had allowed his mother – a person holding no shotgun certificate – access to his shotgun. The Crown Court ultimately upheld his decision concluding Mr. Farrer was in breach of the terms of his Shotgun Certificate by virtue of “not having it stored securely so as to prevent, as far as reasonably practicable, access to the shotgun by an unauthorised person”. This ruling has implications for all certificate holders as in effect technically you cannot entrust your gun or ammunition cabinet key or even knowledge of it whereabouts to anyone. What happens on your ultimate demise is unclear.

There is also the scenario where more than one member of the household has a firearms certificate and their guns are stored in a shared extra deep capacity shotgun cabinet or gun safe. They should consider having their guns cross catalogued on each certificate or risk falling foul of the letter of the law as interpreted by a zealous Chief Constable with an inbuilt and understandable prejudice against gun ownership of any kind.

You might also check the small print of your vehicle insurance as some insurers include an additional exclusion clause against carrying any goods for which you need a police licence including firearms ammunition.

Readers should be aware of their legal obligations and realise that their Firearms Certificate is as safe as the secure storage of their firearms and the care they take when they are in use or in transit.  The Firearms Act 1968 and the Firearms Rules 1998 contain the applicable law. More details can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/