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Firearms in the UK are tightly controlled. Almost all firearms, with a few exceptions, must be licensed. Licences, known as Firearm Certificates (FAC) run for five years and are issued by the Police. Shotguns are governed by Shotgun Certificates. To own a firearm you must have a legitimate "sporting, collecting or work-based reason".

Firearm Certificate Lawyers

This department is led by Laura Saunsbury, an experienced criminal solicitor, whose personal interest in shooting has led her to specialise in firearms and to establish strong links with the leading barristers and expert witnesses in this field. Our expertise in firearms includes:

  • Advising and representing registered firearms dealers and individual certificate holders in connection with all aspects of firearms and shotgun licensing including grant, refusal, renewal or revocation of certificates
  • Negotiations with firearms licensing authorities and the Proof Houses
  • Advising firearms dealers and gunsmiths on the sale and manufacture of all types of firearms
  • Advice and representation in relation to the sale, purchase and ownership of firearms, deactivated weapons, knives, batons and associated articles
  • Representation in court proceedings for those accused of serious criminal offences relating to the possession or use of firearms and weapons
  • Advice and representation at police stations for those being detained under investigation in relation to such matters

Taking legal advice at an early stage can sometimes avoid a firearms license holder having their certificate revoked or not renewed. Even where revocation has already taken place, we may, through written negotiation with the Police, be able to persuade them to reconsider their decision, thereby avoiding the costly and stressful process of an appeal to the Crown Court.

Where a full appeal is necessary, we have considerable experience, and success, in handling them. It should be noted that Legal Aid is not available for advice and representation in connection with firearms licensing matters and therefore such cases will need to be privately funded, either by the individual, or where available, through an appropriate insurance scheme.

Firearm Offence Solicitors

The other area of our expertise concerns criminal offences involving firearms and other weapons. The banning of pistols under the Firearms Act 1997, the reclassification of Brocock-type air weapons, and the introduction of draconian penalties for the possession of prohibited weapons, have done little to reduce violent gun crime in the UK. However, it has made the law as to the classification and status of firearms extremely complex and inaccessible for the lay person. Increasingly, we find ourselves representing people who might be dealers in or collectors of antique firearms, militaria, deactivated and replica weapons, who, having made a genuine mistake as to the legal status of a particular item, are faced with the prospect of a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.

We have an extremely good success rate in avoiding a prison sentence on behalf of clients in such cases. Legal Aid is available for criminal investigations and prosecutions, subject to meeting the relevant eligibility criteria.

Please refer to our case list to see some of our successful results in this field.


Gun licensing: Partners to be quizzed in new screening - BBC News

Enhanced background checks on firearm and shotgun certificate holders

LNL’s firearms law specialist Laura Saunsbury offers an opinion on a new police initiative. Five police forces in England and Wales, including the Metropolitan Police, are currently testing a new questionnaire as part of every application for grant or renewal of a firearm or shotgun certificate. The form is used to ask probing questions of the applicant’s partner which are designed to identify whether domestic abuse or at least domestic turmoil is occurring in their relationship, which would almost certainly lead to a decision that the applicant cannot safely have possession of firearms.

The initiative, known as Project Titanium, was announced earlier this week in a BBC news article ( ), which makes it clear that while this new questionnaire is not currently a legal requirement or part of the application process if the applicant declines to provide the police with their partner’s contact details, this may well result in their application being automatically refused. It seems likely that after this trial period, the Home Office plans to roll out the questionnaire nationally amongst all police forces in England and Wales in the near future.

The objective may be laudable, i.e., ensuring that only those who are suitable and not a danger to public safety are authorised to possess firearms. However, the law-abiding shooting community will be concerned that the announcement of this new questionnaire contains no mention or reassurance that the information gathered from partners of certificate holders or applicants will be carefully assessed as to its accuracy and reliability. Nor is there any indication that the applicant will even be informed of their partner’s answers to these questionnaires, let alone given a right of reply or rebuttal.

The inference, therefore, is that any answers to these questionnaires will simply be accepted at face value as probably being true on the balance of probabilities, and without further investigation. Certificate holders have learned to live with the risk of their certificates being jeopardised by false and malicious complaints, but there will be concern amongst shooters that this questionnaire is effectively now an open and explicit invitation to any disgruntled spouse who wants to be spiteful and interfere with their partner’s lawful shooting activities.

If you are experiencing difficulties with your firearm or shotgun certificate renewal or application, contact Laura Saunsbury or Gary Smith in our specialist firearms law team.    

Contact our Top Criminal Defence Solicitors

For further information or to speak to one of our top criminal defence solicitors please telephone us on 020 7387 2032, complete our online enquiry form or contact Laura Saunsbury, Leila Abdul-Rasool, Miles Herman, Tony Meisels, or Keith Wood.

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