Owners of certain firearms previously considered antique will need to obtain a license following a change in the law, which will come into full force on September 22.
The changes aim to protect the public by making it harder for criminals to get their hands on these types of weapons.
Earlier this year, the government amended the law to introduce for the first time a legal definition of antique firearms.
Starting Wednesday, September 22, 2021, owners will need a license to own any firearm that does not meet the criteria. Due to their criminal use, seven cartridges that were previously included in the Home Office guidelines were not included in the new legal definition. This means that all firearms chambered for use with these cartridges will require a license starting September 22.
The UK has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world and relatively low gun crime rates. These changes will help further restrict criminals’ access to firearms and better protect the public.
Police and Crime Minister Kit Malthouse said:
Criminals are exploiting a gray area of the law to get their hands on these guns, so this change will make our streets safer and ensure that these potentially lethal guns don’t end up in the wrong hands.
There are of course legitimate reasons for owning a gun that is an antique or was previously considered an antique, and their owners are not involved in any wrongdoing. They may belong to a collector or to a family heirloom, for example.
I urge anyone who owns any of these guns to check what is required and legally authorize or dispose of them to ensure they are not breaking the law.
The head of the National Council of Chiefs of Police for Firearms Licensing, Deputy Chief Constable Dave Orford, said:
We welcome the changes to the legislation regarding antique firearms. These measures will help officers seize more dangerous weapons and deal with those who intend to use them to cause damage and suffering.
I urge anyone who owns a firearm that they previously thought was old and unlicensed to check if it now needs to be licensed and, if so, contact their local police department to facilitate this.
Anyone wishing to have a firearm can hand it in to the nearest police station. If people suspect others of having an illegal firearm, they can report it through 101 or Crimestoppers.
Christian Ashwell, head of the criminal gun threat at the National Crime Agency, said:
Criminals with access to these seven calibers of self-contained cartridge revolver have led to their use in shootings across the UK resulting in serious injury and in some cases death.
In response, the NCA worked with the Home Office, law enforcement partners and legitimate shooting communities to make these regulatory changes, to protect the public from future harm.
The risk posed by the criminal use of firearms remains high in the UK. Therefore, disrupting the supply of illegal firearms is a top priority for the NCA and our law enforcement partners.
Protecting communities from this threat cannot be achieved through law enforcement alone. Ongoing public support is essential and we encourage anyone with information about illegally held firearms to contact Crime Stoppers or their local police.
The seven cartridges which were previously in the guidelines of the Ministry of the Interior but which have been omitted from the equivalent list in Regulation 2021 and which will therefore require a license to be legally detained from September 22 are:
.320 British (also known as .320 Revolver CF, short or long)
.41 Colt (short or long)
.44 Smith and Russian Wesson
.442 Revolver (also known as .44 Webley)
9.4mm Dutch Revolver
German 10.6mm artillery revolver
French Revolver 11mm M1873 (Army)
The antique firearms law changed on March 22, but owners had 6 months to decide whether to apply for a firearms certificate if they wanted to keep their firearm, or dispose of it. (for example, handing them over to the police or selling them).
Section 58 of the Firearms Act 1968 and the Antique Firearms Regulations 2021 establish in law which firearms can be considered antique and are therefore exempt from licensing. The definition closely follows the pattern previously used in the Home Office guidelines and will therefore be familiar to collectors, dealers and museums.
To be considered an antique, a firearm must:
were manufactured before September 1, 1939, and
either have a propulsion system of a type specified in the 2021 Regulations (e.g. muzzle, pin or needle magazines) or the chamber (s) are those which the firearm had at the time of manufacture (or a replacement which is identical in all material respects) and it is chambered for use with a cartridge specified in the 2021 Regulations, and
be sold, transferred, bought, acquired or possessed as a curiosity or ornament.
People who own such firearms can ask their local police firearms licensing department to keep them on a firearms certificate. Applications must be made before the end of the transition period at 11:59 pm on September 21, 2021. As long as a person has applied for a firearm certificate, they will remain in legal possession of their firearm even if their application remains. pending or subject to a pending appeal at the end of the transition period.
If a firearm meets the criteria for a historic handgun under section 7 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, the owner can apply for a certificate on that basis.
If the owner of a firearm that no longer meets the definition of an older firearm chooses not to authorize it, it will have to be disposed of before the end of the transition period. Disposal may include selling, exporting or deactivating the firearm, donating it to a museum, or handing it over to the police. To do this, owners will be able to freely sell or transfer the firearm to another collector or museum without the need for a firearm certificate, section 5 authorization or a museum firearms license. Owners can also sell or transfer the firearm to a dealer, but only to one who is registered with the police and who has authority under section 5. In all cases, the new owner must then apply to the police for a firearm certificate or museum permit in respect of the firearm before the end of the transition period.
Resellers will be able to sell or transfer these firearms, which they already own, before 11:59 p.m. on September 21, 2021 without being registered with the police and without having a Section 5 authorization. However, they must be registered and hold a authorization under section 5 before purchasing or acquiring such firearms.
Museums can also sell or transfer these firearms freely until the end of the transition period. When a museum purchases or acquires such firearms, it must apply before the deadline for either a museum firearms license (with the permission of the Secretary of State or the Scottish Ministers to possess prohibited weapons) or a firearm certificate.
Further details on the changes to the law are set out in a circular HO.
Detective Superintendent Carl Galvin heads the West Yorkshire Police Precision Program – the Force’s response to serious and organized crime.
“I urge all owners of firearms formerly considered antiques to contact me as soon as possible to see if the changes affect them.
“The changes to the legislation are coming soon, so time is running out. These are important changes designed to protect the public.
For more information on the West Yorkshire Police Firearms Licensing Team, please visit the Firearms Licensing page | West Yorkshire Police
Alternatively, you can send an email (preferred contact method) [email protected] or call directly on 01924 292310/292312/292330 (Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and leave a message