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How secure are your guns? Top ten tips for keeping your guns secure.

How secure are your guns? Our firearms solicitor Laura Saunsbury offers her top ten tips for security of your guns while travelling. The article is to be featured in the March Edition of “Pull!”, the official monthly magazine of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association.

The importance of good security measures, both in your own home and when travelling, should never be underestimated. Not only can it prevent theft of or unauthorised access to your guns, but it can help avoid other unanticipated consequences such as the revocation of your shotgun certificate.

UK Firearms Certificate

It should be remembered that it is a specific condition of your certificate to store your guns securely at all times so as to prevent access to them by unauthorised persons.

The usual requirement to lock them away securely does not apply while your guns are in use or being repaired, or if they are in transit for such purposes.That said, you are still under an obligation to take reasonable precautions for the safe custody of your guns and ammunition. If the police take the view that you have been sloppy in your attitude to security while travelling around with them and should have taken greater care, they may use that as a reason to revoke your certificate. The police may even prosecute you as well if they are feeling particularly churlish, as breach of any of the conditions on your certificate is a criminal offence.

With that in mind, there are a number of precautions I would recommend which should go a long way to minimising if not completely eliminating the risk of your guns being interfered with while in transit:

1. If you travel regularly and/or long distances with your guns, consider investing in some in-car security for your guns. A wide variety of different in-car security solutions is available to suit differing needs and budgets, ranging from specially designed safes and security cages similar to those used for dogs in vehicles through to steel cable locks or clamps.

2. Wherever possible, ensure that any such security device is bolted to the structure of the vehicle, make sure you actually use it and never leave the keys to the security cable or other device in the unattended vehicle.

3. For those of you who travel less frequently with your guns, specially designed security equipment may be an expense that is not warranted. However, you should at all times (including when you are in the vehicle) stow your guns and ammunition well out of sight so that they are not visible to the casual passer-by. Furthermore, always be careful when you leave your vehicle unattended to ensure you leave nothing on view such as empty gun slips, ammunition bags, other accessories or even branded clothing which could identify the owner of the vehicle as a shooter.

4. If you need to leave your guns in the vehicle for a short period, partially disassemble each of your shotguns so as to remove the fore-end or stock and, wherever possible, carry that part of each gun on your person. If this is not practical in the particular circumstances, at least conceal the part you have removed elsewhere in the vehicle so as to keep it separate from the rest of the gun.Think ahead and, if you anticipate having to make breaks in your journey, carry out any removal of gun parts and separate stowage at home before you set out rather than in full view in a crowded motorway service station car park. If you are travelling in company, take it in turns to visit the facilities when you break your journey wherever possible rather than leaving the vehicle unattended.

5. Never leave your guns in your car overnight, no matter how sophisticated the alarm system, immobiliser, tracking device etc. on your vehicle and/or any additional security provisions you have installed for your guns. Remember, whatever has been invented by man can be defeated by man. Even if the experienced car thief who managed to break into your car during the night was unaware of the hidden bonus inside it, if he then drives off with your car and guns as well, you are going to have some serious explaining to do to your firearms enquiry officer.

6. Before booking accommodation for an overnight stay, investigate what storage facilities the hotel or other establishment can offer for your guns. If they are not used to catering for shooting guests, explore with the shooting ground where you are going to be  competing if they can offer you overnight storage facilities. Depending on the volume of people competing at the event, this may or may not be feasible.

7. In the absence of special gun storage facilities in the hotel or at the shooting ground, take sufficient portable locking devices with you to make your own temporary arrangements. Bring your guns into the hotel room and put them out of sight as far as possible while locking them to an immovable object in the room such as a radiator or the frame of the sturdiest piece of furniture in the room, again removing the stock or fore-end. An opportunist thief or dishonest member of hotel staff is far less likely to be tempted to be light fingered with your shotgun if they’ve got to make off with the radiator or washstand as well.

8. When carrying your guns to and from your car, always keep them well covered – preferably in a gun slip. Be attentive as to whether you are being observed by anyone and be particularly vigilant when in more crowded public places.

9. For the same reason that I advised you to avoid leaving any gun slips or accessories on view, consider carefully before being tempted to advertise your pastime by posting big stickers in the windows of your vehicle promoting your favourite cartridge or gun brand. Clever thieves are good at spotting the smallest clues signalling where they might find the type of thing they are after.

10. Similarly, be suitably discreet when in public places about being a gun owner in terms of what you do and say, rather than advertising it to all and sundry. While you may be proud of your latest acquisition, don’t stand there showing it off to your friends or even talking about it in a loud voice while in a public venue such as a pub car park after the shoot. If your vehicle then gets targeted while you are enjoying your lunch, you may regret it.

The above is intended to be merely some general guidelines as to sensible security provisions when travelling away from home. There can be no hard and fast rules, as you will need to weigh up in the particular situation what is necessary or reasonable and the best option of the various alternatives available to you. If you have any concerns about whether your proposed security arrangements are adequate, you may wish to discuss it with your local licensing officer. If you have followed their advice, you can hardly then be criticised if a problem arises.

If you have any queries regarding UK firearms law, please contact Laura Saunsbury, Lewis Nedas Solicitor and Honorary Solicitor for the CPSA


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Excellent Reviews for Laura Saunsbury’s Book on Firearms Law

In December 2011 Sweet & Maxwell published The British Firearms Law Handbook, which our firearms law specialist Laura Saunsbury co-authored with barristers Nick Doherty and Helen Dobby. Since then the book has been the subject of critical acclaim in a number of reviews published in shooting journals and also the legal press.


, the web-based legal update service for criminal lawyers, described the book in a recent review as, “the nearest to a dedicated practitioner text on the subject as you would ever want”. The review, which was circulated by email to criminal solicitors and barristers throughout the country on 15 June 2012, concluded, “It is difficult to see how any criminal law practitioner dealing with a firearms case can properly ignore this book”.

In the shooting press the book has been widely applauded as a valuable guide for shooting enthusiasts. In the July 2012 issue of Sporting Gun magazine, the reviewer David Frost wrote, “You might expect the book to be full of legal jargon but in fact it’s written in a very user friendly style”. In another review published in the summer 2012 issue of Keeping the Balance, the magazine of the National Gamekeeper’s Organisation, it was given the following praise, “The book has much to commend it for the ordinary gun user”

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