Firearms Ownership


Introduction to Firearms Ownership in the UK


Firearms ownership by citizens is very tightly controlled in the UK, and ownership of many types of firearm is prohibited completely. 

The law relating to firearms ownership is complicated and strict, but an individual will be expected to meet several criteria before being granted a Firearms Certificate (FAC) by the local police authority. These criteria include:

  • That the individual is a "fit person" to possess firearms, that they have no mental illness or demonstrated criminal intent or other circumstances that might endanger public safety.

  • That they have a valid reason for possession of firearms. Target shooting is one such valid reason. Full membership of an approved shooting Club (such as Gally Hill) will be evidence of this. Other valid reasons for firearm ownership can include vermin control, stalking, farming or veterinarian activities and historical collection. "Self-defence" is not regarded as a valid reason in the UK.

  • That they have adequate safe storage facilities to guarantee the security of any firearms and ammunition in their possession. The home office has published guidelines for the security of firearms, and a firearms security handbook.

Once issued, a Firearms Certificate authorises the holder to acquire specific firearms and ammunition, which may then be purchased from a licensed firearms dealer. Approximately 800,000 Firearms Certificates are current in the UK, and shooting is a popular and widespread activity. Note that the police maintain a national database of registered firearms certificate holders, the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS).

The possession of unlicensed firearms or ammunition is a serious offence. Certain people are prohibited from firearms ownership and use (specifically those who have been sentenced to a custodial sentence of more than three months).

An introduction to airgun ownership can be found here.

The metropolitan police operate web-site that provides a wide range of downloadable forms and contact details for all the Metropolitan police Firearms Enquiry Teams (FET):

If you live outside the Metropolitan area, you should contact your local force.

The Home Office has published a detailed 'Firearms: Guidance to the Police' document (a 212 page .pdf file). Links to a number of other Home Office/Police firearms related documents can be found here.

You can also contact your local police station, who will be able to provide you with more information. Or try visiting your local shooting shop or Club.