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Thread: UK Airgun Law

  1. #1
    Administrator Andy's Avatar
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    Arrow UK Airgun Law

    Airguns in the UK are subject to the firearms acts, under the Firearms (Dangerous air weapons) rules 1969 they are classified as low powered Air Weapons and as such they are restricted to a maximum power of 12 foot pounds energy for a rifle and 6 foot pounds energy for a pistol. Air rifles above 12ft/lbs are classified as a Section 1 Firearm and requires a licence (FAC) otherwise known as a firearms certificate, and an Air pistol above 6ftlb is a prohibited weapon.

    UK Legal Limit
    To calculate the power of an airgun you need to use a chronograph to measure the speed of the pellet (in feet per second) when fired, and you need to know the weight of the pellet in grains. Once you have that information you perform the following calculation:- speed(ft/sec) X speed(ft/sec) X weight(grains) /450240
    This gives you the result in foot pounds force (ftlb).
    As mentioned the legal maximum for an unlicensed air rifle is 12 ftlb which from changing round the above formula, gives the approximate values as follows:-
    A .22 pellet weighing 14.4 grains, maximum permissible speed is 612 ft/sec
    A .177 pellet weighing 7.9 grains, maximum permissible speed is 826 ft/sec
    The corresponding figures for a pistol are 433 ft/sec for a .22 and 584 ft/sec for a .177
    The pellet weights used in the above calculation are typical weights for the sizes of pellet but you must always check the actual weight of your pellet before performing your own calculation.

    Airgun Quarry
    The following pests are considered suitable for controlling using a sub-12 ftlb Airgun.
    BIRDS: (covered by the open general licences) crows, rooks, jackdaws, magpies, jays, wood pigeon, collared doves, and feral pigeons.
    MAMMALS: brown rats, grey squirrels, stoats, mink and rabbits.
    Information sheet on general licences for the control of certain bird species in the UK please click here to read
    Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
    All bird and animals are protected by law. Certain species are classified as pests or vermin and only these species can be legitimately shot and then only by authorised persons. An Authorised Person is someone who has the proper permission from the land owner to control pests on that land. © Airgunforum.co.uk

    Offence Penalties
    The Penalties for breaking current UK firearms laws with Airguns are as follows:-
    Carrying a loaded Air-weapon in a public place 6 months imprisonment and / or £5,000 fine.
    Trespassing with an air weapon 3 months imprisonment and / or £2,500 fine.
    Trespassing on private land with an air weapon 3 months imprisonment and / or £2,500 fine.
    Possessing or using an air weapon if sentenced to 3 months or more in custody 3 months imprisonment and / or £2,500 fine.
    In addition if original sentence up to 3 years 5 year ban on use of firearms.
    Or if for 3 years or more Life ban on use of firearms.
    Killing or injuring any bird or protected animal unless authorised £5,000 fine.
    Firing an air weapon within 15m / 50ft of a public highway £1,000 fine.
    Selling or hiring air weapon or ammunition to person under 17 6 months imprisonment and / or £5,000 fine.
    Making a gift of air weapon or ammunition to person under 14 £1,000 fine.
    Having air weapon or ammunition with intent to damage property 10 years imprisonment.
    Having air weapon with intent to endanger life Life imprisonment and / or appropriate fine.
    Using air weapon to resist or prevent arrest Life imprisonment and / or appropriate fine.
    Threatening others with an air weapon (even if unloaded) to cause them to fear unlawful violence 10 years imprisonment and / or appropriate fine.
    Not forgetting the chance of being shot and killed by the police should you not obey instructions when challenged by them, they cannot tell if you have just an airgun or a more lethal firearm so will treat all arms as lethal and respond accordingly.

    Civil Law
    It should be born in mind by every airgun shooter that the unexpected could happen and they could find themselves facing a civil action for damage to property or even injury to persons or livestock. Every airgun shooter should have Third Party Public Liability Insurance before venturing out of doors, and joining one of the bodies representing shooters interests is the best way to achieve this.


    Following the enactment of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, listed below are the current regulations relating to the purchase, ownership, sale and possession of airguns and ammunition.

    Persons under the age of 14:
    1) No person under the age of 14 may purchase, hire or be given an airgun or ammunition.
    2) A person under the age of 14 must at all times when shooting be supervised by a person over the age of 21.

    Persons over the age of 14 but under 18:
    1) No person under the age of 18 may purchase, hire or be given an airgun or ammunition.
    2) A person in this age group may shoot unsupervised on private land with the permission of the landowner but must be supervised by somebody over the age of 21 if in a public place.
    It should be noted that this means that a person aged seventeen and a half who may have a driving licence cannot take an air rifle from home to his club to shoot unless the gun is possessed by somebody over the age of eighteen or the seventeen and a half-year old is supervised by a person over the age of twenty-one.

    Persons over the age of 18:
    A person over the age of eighteen can buy an airgun and pellets and use them unsupervised.

    General Restrictions:
    1) It is an offence to have an airgun in a public place "without good reason", the proof being the responsibility of the possessor.
    2) It is an offence to discharge a firearm within fifty feet of the centre of a highway, if doing so would cause a nuisance or endangering the public
    3) When shooting over private land it is an offence for the pellet to go beyond the boundary of the premises on which the gun is being used unless there is permission from the adjoining landowner.
    4) Persons who by way of trade deal in airguns, pressure bearing parts or component parts must be a Registered Firearms Dealer and any transaction must be face-to-face. Ammunition for airguns may continue to be sold by post.

    Exceptions:
    1) It is not an offence for a person to have with him an airgun or ammunition whilst being a member of a Home Office Approved Club in connection with target practice.
    2) Air rifles with a muzzle energy in excess of 12 foot pounds (which require licensing) are not subject to the general restrictions listed above.
    3) An "airgun" with the kinetic energy of less than one joule is considered a toy and is therefore not covered by the above restrictions but may be considered a realistic imitation firearm (if it looks like a gun). The sale of realistic imitation firearms is now banned with one or two minor exceptions, mainly for historical re-enactment, museums and television/film/theatrical performances or as a recognized member of an airsoft site affiliated to the Association of British AirSoft. © Airgunforum.co.uk


    Crime and Security Bill:
    Offence of allowing minors access to air rifles/pistols, The Firearms Act 1968 is amended as follows.
    Failing to prevent minors from having air rifles/pistols.
    It is an offence for a person in possession of an air rifle/pistol to fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent any persons under the age of 18 from having the air rifle/pistol with him.
    Last edited by Andy; 11-04-2010 at 23:01 PM. Reason: Added security bill
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for that, very informative

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    Hi there, I was wondering about carrying an air rifle (11ft/p) on a train/coach. I'm not a member of any shooting clubs (yet ) however my father's land is having a pigeon issue that he wishes me to take care of. What are the laws about me carrying the rifle? I'd need to take both pellets and the air rifle.

    Thanks

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    I would also like to know about that as i currently do not drive, and if i wanted to go to a rilfe club and take my air rifle with me, it would be cheaper to use public transport.

    Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

  5. #5
    Administrator Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yawatmahu View Post
    I would also like to know about that as i currently do not drive, and if i wanted to go to a rilfe club and take my air rifle with me, it would be cheaper to use public transport.

    Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
    I have asked on the PNLD (Police National Legal Database) and this was the response they gave.

    The possession of an offensive weapon in a public place is an
    offence by virtue of section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953.
    However, no offence is committed if the possession is with lawful authority
    or reasonable excuse. In connection with these defences to the offence, see
    the following comments:

    LAWFUL AUTHORITY DEFENCE
    This defence would extend to persons such as an on duty policeman with a
    truncheon. However, security guards at dance halls who carried a truncheon
    "as deterrent and as part of the uniform" had no reasonable excuse in law
    (R v Spanner and others [1973] Crim LR 704).

    REASONABLE EXCUSE DEFENCE
    It covers the concept of self defence in cases of an imminent threat, but
    not the carrying of a knife on the off chance of being attacked (R v
    Peacock [1973] Crim LR 639); nor to repel unlawful violence which the
    defendant had knowingly and deliberately brought about by creating a
    situation in which violence was liable to be inflicted (Malnik v DPP [1989]
    Crim LR 451).
    • In connection with self protection, see Evans v Hughes below.
    • In connection with instant use or possession of an otherwise innocent
    article, see Ohlson v Hylton below. Whether an excuse is reasonable is for
    the court to decide having heard all the circumstances.
    Reasonable excuses (examples)

    SELF DEFENCE - a man fears for his safety and picks up a brick to defend
    himself if the need arises. Normally, this must be a threat to him which is
    likely to occur almost straight away (before he can escape or get help),
    but it will depend on the circumstances as to the length of time it would
    be reasonable to keep hold of the brick. (This defence is not a general
    excuse to carry a weapon because of the rough nature of a neighbourhood. If
    an individual is under constant threat then they must get the help of the
    police. If a defendant could show that the police did not provide
    sufficient protection then a jury would have to consider the reasonableness
    of the person's actions in the circumstances).

    INSTANT USE - a woman fears for her safety, picks up a brick and hits a
    youth who is threatening her.

    INNOCENT REASON - a martial arts expert taking certain articles / objects
    to his evening class.

    FORGETFULNESS - The straight forward fact that the accused forgot he had
    the weapon with him is not in itself a reasonable excuse (R v McCalla
    (1988)).
    However, in very specific circumstances, forgetfulness may be a factor the
    court can consider as a reasonable excuse for possession of an offensive
    weapon (e.g. a taxi driver finds a rope in the back of his taxi, hides it
    under the seat intending to dispose of it later, but forgets about it (R v
    Glidewell 1999)).Not reasonable excuses (examples)

    IGNORANCE as to the nature of an object (e.g. thinking an extendible baton
    is an aerial (R v Densu 1997)) is not a reasonable excuse. (If the defence
    wish to claim that they had reasonable excuse or lawful authority, then
    they must satisfy the Court on the balance of probabilities. Officers
    should anticipate the possibility of such a defence arising and attempt to
    neutralise it through evidence or interview).

    Ultimately it would be upto the individual to prove to the officer that
    they had a reasonable excuse to carry the Air Rifle in public. You could
    contact your local police force to gain further information.
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  6. #6
    Registered 40+ posts Scaramanga's Avatar
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    I think you will find that if you carry your rifle in a proper gun case, you will have no problems. Noone can then reasonably regard it as an ´offensive weapon´.

    Circumstances are everything in this sort of situation. If I am fishing on the beach, and I have a filleting knife (wicked looking thing) laying there, it is a normal part of my equipment. Anyone walking past and seeing it will feel no threat or alarm.
    Totally different situation should I take the same knife to a football match !!
    Last edited by Scaramanga; 27-08-2009 at 12:26 PM.

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    That was a good read, but im still a little puzzled

    There's a dissused quarry about 20 min's from my house, i used to ride my motocross bike up there when i was younger and never got any bother off anybody, infact the place very rarely had anyone about except the odd person now and then with a dog.

    If me and a friend went to this quarry and set up some target's and started shooting, would i be breaking the law, its well over 15 meters away from the highway and im 22 so as long as were out of the way surely there wouldnt be a problem?

    Then i read the part about tresspassing with a firearm and the jail sentance/fine etc, and now its got me worried thinking 1 minute we'll be happily shooting a target and the next thing they'll be armed police and helicopters etc etc and ill be thrown in jail!!!

    Is it really that bad?

  8. #8
    Registered 40+ posts andyhawkx3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyp View Post
    That was a good read, but im still a little puzzled

    There's a disused quarry about 20 Min's from my house, i used to ride my motocross bike up there when i was younger and never got any bother off anybody, in-fact the place very rarely had anyone about except the odd person now and then with a dog.

    If me and a friend went to this quarry and set up some target's and started shooting, would i be breaking the law, its well over 15 meters away from the highway and I'm 22 so as long as were out of the way surely there wouldn't be a problem?

    Then i read the part about trespassing with a firearm and the jail sentence/fine etc, and now its got me worried thinking 1 minute we'll be happily shooting a target and the next thing they'll be armed police and helicopters etc etc and ill be thrown in jail!!!

    Is it really that bad?
    Yes you & your friend would be breaking the law, of the land, If the land belongs to someone, you would be classed as armed trespassers (No permission)...if its a public right of way, you would be classed as armed in a public place ...if seen there and reported to the Police, armed Police will no doubt be called to arrest you.

    .....So get the permission in writing, and adequate insurance, always carry the documents with you, when shooting ..always do a risk assessment before shooting (i.e. make sure there is no one there that shouldn't be, like the to people, at the start of your post)

  9. #9
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    Thank's for that, after reading that i think it's best not to risk it then 1 of my friends grandparents owns a farm and has a lot of land, so i suppose if i had there permission to be on there land then no one can say anything really

    I cant beleive how strict the british law on airgun's has become, more than likely spoiled for everyone by a few stupid idiot's running round the street's with loaded air rifle's.

    It's lucky i asked about air gun law's because i would probably of had armed police arresting me the first time i went out shooting.

    Thank's for the sound advice

  10. #10
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    ok well ive read all the above thoroughly and still feel a little puzzled basically the land i will have permission to shoot on is about a mile from my house and i will be walking as i dont drive, my rifle is in a padlocked bsa over the shoulder rifle bag, is this acceptable to be carried in public or am i best getting taxi to my venue. thanks steve.

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