Borrowing Shotguns/Firearms

New law affects authorised lending of firearms with effect from 02nd May 2017.

As a result of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 we have to relearn how we lend firearms. Section 11(5) of the 1968 Act and Section 16 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 no longer exist. They are replaced by Section 11A.

Written permission now forms part of the criteria in certain circumstances. In the case of lending shotguns and rifles the lender must be;

  1. a)    a person who has the right to allow others to enter the premises for the purpose of hunting animals or shooting game or vermin, or
  2. b)    a person authorised by them in writing.

This means firearm/shotgun certificate holder must seek written permission before they loan rifles or shotguns to non-certificate holders.

The law on borrowing and lending guns.

The rules are covered in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 section 130 which says: “A person (“the borrower”) may, without holding a certificate under this Act, borrow a rifle or shot gun from another person on private premises.” 

Section 11(A) of the Firearms Act 1968  also covers this issue, and details how shotguns can be lent and borrowed, as long as all the following are met:

  • The borrower of a shotgun may be of any age (to borrow a rifle the user needs to be aged over 17)
  • The lender must be aged 18 or older and have a valid certificate in respect of the shotgun.
  • The borrower must be in the presence of the lender; that is in sight and/or earshot.
  • Use of a shotgun must comply with any conditions on the certificate held in respect of that shotgun.
  • The purpose of the loan is only for hunting animals, shooting game or vermin or shooting artificial targets.
  • The lender must be a person who has the right to allow others to enter the premises for the purpose of hunting animals or shooting game or vermin, or a person authorised by them in writing.
  1. The shotgun must be borrowed. Most of us understand the concept of borrowing and lending: a temporary parting of possession for which no charge is made.
  2. Second, the premises — which includes land — on which the borrowing takes place must be private. This would include most farmland or woodland in private ownership, whether or not any public footpath or bridleway runs across it. It would not, however, include designated public access land, Forestry Commission woodland or Crown foreshore to which there is public access.
  3. The borrower must be in the lender’s “presence”. This is not defined in law, and there is certainly no requirement for the borrower to be under the lender’s close supervision. This is required when a person under 15 years old is using a gun under the supervision of an adult over the age of 21.

It is generally held that if the lender is within sight or sound of the borrower, he is regarded as being “present” and the requirements of the law are fulfilled. So the lender could, for example, be standing at another peg in the line of Guns or observing the shoot from the side lines.

It is not permissible for a syndicate member to turn up at a shoot with a guest and loan him a gun for the day.

Who is the “occupier” of the land?

A lawful sporting tenant would be an occupier, as would someone with a written licence from the landowner to shoot on a particular piece of ground.

Remember that it is only the occupier who can lend his gun to the non-certificate holder. It is not permissible, say, for a shooting guest or syndicate member to turn up at a shoot with his guest in tow, and loan him a gun for the day, even though many people do exactly this BUT they are breaking the law.

If you’re not the occupier of the land, you can’t lend the gun.

Young Shots

Likewise, the parent introducing to shooting a child who is not a certificate holder, or accompanying that child on a Young Shots’ day, cannot lend a gun unless they are the occupier. It is for this reason that Young Shots are always encouraged to have a certificate of their own because, as a certificate holder in their own right, they may borrow a shotgun from anyone for up to 72 hours.

If you’re considering inviting someone who doesn’t hold a gun certificate to shoot with your gun…

ALL these four tests must be passed:

  • The other person must BORROW your gun.
  • You must be the OCCUPIER of the land.
  • The LAND must be private.
  • You must be PRESENT.

However if you and a friend wish to swap guns on a day and assuming you both have valid certificates the law allows for that under the 72-hour rule. You do not need to record the loan if for less than 72 hours but after that the loan must be added to each valid certificate and the relevant firearms police notified. There is no limit to the number of times the 72-hour rule can be used as long as not consecutively. It might be a good idea to record the start/finish times of such lending.

One major exception to this might be S1 shotguns. You may NOT lend a large capacity shotgun i.e. more than 3 shot, to anyone regardless of certificates.