A reader wants to know what the limit is …
Q: When I got my shotgun licence three years ago I bought a four-gun cabinet.
I’ve just bought my fifth shotgun and have been told by my firearms enquiry officer (FEO) that I am only allowed to own four because that is all my cabinet was intended for.
Do I have to get rid of one?
A: The capacity of a security cabinet is the number of guns that it will physically hold. Any capacity described by the manufacturer is indicative only, usually for marketing purposes.
The stated capacity of a cabinet can be doubled in reality, especially if it is installed lying down.
If you look at Condition 4(a) on your certificate it says that you will take “reasonably practicable precautions” to store your shotguns securely when not in use so as to prevent unauthorised access to them.
The onus is on you to do this. If you can get five guns into your cabinet you do not have to get rid of one. Invite the FEO to see for herself that you can accommodate five guns.
If, having done this, the FEO is still insistent that you should reduce your total, you should go over her head and speak to the firearms licensing manager. Do not be afraid of doing this — you have a right to be treated fairly by officialdom.
Could bailiffs seize my shotguns and firearms?
A: In as far as your guns are a personal asset – they can be seized by a debt collector but seizure of assets can only be enforced by court order.
Bailiffs have no exemption under the Firearms Act and must be in possession of a section 7 permit or a shotgun certificate or be an RFD if they want to seize guns.
In practice this makes seizure of firearms difficult to enforce.
You would be in breach of the law if you handed the guns over to anyone who did not show you a valid permit or certificate or who could not show he was exempt from having one.
And what about shotguns in rented property?
Whether you can keep guns in rented premises or not depends on the terms of the tenancy agreement.
There is nothing in law which automatically excludes keeping guns in rented property. You don’t need to tell the landlord you have guns but it would be wise to ask to see the draft tenancy agreement before you decide on a home.
If you need to fix a gun cabinet to the wall it is your responsibility to make good the holes when you move out.
Some local authorities have sought to ban their tenants from keeping firearms but I’ve not heard of any private landlords who do (cue – lots of mail!).