Changes in the 2017 Firearms Act – how do they impact gun owners?
A bill that will result in changes in the 2017 Firearms Act, known as the Policing and Crime Bill, has recently been passed. The Policing and Crime Bill presents three major changes to the law and it has received Royal Assent. The Home Office must now provide police with guidelines to follow regarding the changes that the bill will introduce. These guidelines are not expected until the summer 2017, but if you currently own a shotgun or rifle you should be aware of them.
Following are the three primary changes the bill has introduced and how they will change the Firearms Act.
1. Authorised Lending and Possession of Firearms – Section 132
The current law states that an individual may borrow a rifle or shotgun from someone who occupies private property, even if he or she does not hold a certificate. This person must be at least 17 years old. If he or she is borrowing a rifle, it may only be used if a certified individual (the occupier’s “servant”) is present.
The amendment to this section clarifies the definition of the occupier. Instead of stating that a person may borrow a shotgun or rifle from the occupier of private property, it changes the language to read that he or she may borrow and use the rifle or shotgun on private property as long as the lender or other authorised person is there. This other person must have a written document giving them authority to supervise the use of the firearm by the lender. This makes it clear that the lender must be over 18 years old and hold a certificate, plus it clarifies several other parts of the original section.
2. Extension of Firearms Certificates – Section 133
This law deals with certificates and renewal. It states that, if a person’s certificate expires before it’s renewed by the firearms licensing team, that person can no longer legally possess firearms. They can be found in unlawful possession, in this case. If this occurs, the individual must transfer all firearms to a lawful holder or dealer, or they must obtain a temporary (Section 7) permit from the police.
The amendment will allow firearms owners to legally own their guns for eight weeks after their certificate expires, if they submitted their renewal application at least eight weeks prior to its expiry date. This helps avoid the necessity of issuing temporary permits and for firearms owners to go through the hassle of transferring their guns to others for a short time.
3. Controls on Ammunition Which Expands on Impact – Section 131
Section 131 classifies expanding ammunition as “Section 5 Ammunition.” This requires owners to have a special authority listed on their firearms certificate to legally possess this type of ammunition. Expanding ammunition cannot be legally held by those who are on a temporary (Section 7) permit. That means, when police issue a temporary permit when a certificate has expired but is in the process of being renewed, that person cannot legally own this type of ammunition. The Policing and Crime Bill amendment modifies this section so that expanding ammunition is classified under Section 1 instead of Section 5.
For full details of the forthcoming guidelines please see the Policing and Crime Act on the UK Government website or pop in to the shop for a chat.