A further key improvement to firearms law, proposed by the Countryside Alliance in March this year, has today (7th December) been moved by the Government as an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill, and passed by the House of Lords.
The Government has amended the Bill further to clarify the law in respect of who may lend and borrow shotguns and rifles on private premises. The amendment removes the uncertainty in the existing law as to who is an “occupier” of premises for the purpose of lending a shotgun or rifle on private premises. The problem is that the word ‘occupier’ is not defined in the legislation and has not been tested in the Courts. There is thus confusion over who may lawfully lend rifles or shotguns on private premises. This was also recently highlighted by the Law Commission
This amendment, which is supported by the police, is the result of the hard work of the Countryside Alliance working with the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) and the other member organisations, and with Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “We are delighted that the Government has, in addition to earlier amendments, taken yet another step to make the most of the opportunity presented by the Policing and Crime Bill to improve firearms law, as the Countryside Alliance called for back in March. We are very grateful for the hard work and leadership of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, to the Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, and the British Shooting Sports Council in securing another significant improvement to firearms law in this country.
“This amendment has the support of the Government, the shooting community and the police and will provide the clarity to firearms law over the borrowing and lending of rifles and shotguns on private premises for which we have long called. It demonstrates what can be achieved when all parties work together and we have a Government and a Minister who are prepared to listen and who understand shooting. ”
Please note that the amendments made to firearms legislation will not have legal effect until after Royal Assent. We will publicise when the various changes come into effect.
The amended law would mean:
- A person, without holding a certificate would be able to borrow a shotgun or rifle on private premises and use that firearm in the presence of the lender or other person authorised in writing. Only a person over 17 may borrow a rifle.
- The new clause makes clear that the person lending must be a certificate holder aged over 18 and can be either 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 is a person authorised by them in writing.
- Where a rifle is borrowed it must be used in the presence of the lender or if not the person lending then a person over 18 who holds a firearm certificate in respect of the rifle borrowed.
- Where a shotgun is borrowed it must be used in the presence of the lender or if not the person lending then a person over 18 who holds a shotgun certificate.