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.

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.