BASC’s firearm team is responsible for advising members on firearm issues. Firearms officer Simon Vann looks at the contentious subject of removal of firearms by the police and the legal requirements that they must meet.
The term ‘seized’ is often misused by officers when attending certificate holders’ addresses. It implies that the certificate holder has no option other than to comply, however, that is not the case as the possession and certification of firearms is controlled by legislation.
For the police to legally remove guns from a certificate holder one the following must apply;
If you ever find yourself in one of the above situations, then the following tips may be helpful:
Q: “The police cannot touch my guns unless they are firearm officers,” or “the police cannot handle my guns unless they have a shotgun/firearms certificate.”
A: All persons employed by the police have Crown Immunity and can handle firearms and ammunition. However, most constabularies usually have guns made safe by authorised staff.
These can range from Authorised Firearms Officers, Firearms Enquiry Officers and Force Armourers to name but a few. The list may vary from force to force.
Q: “If the police revoke or refuse to renew certificates they will destroy the guns.”
A: This is not the case. You continue to have the ability to sell of gift the firearms to other certificate holders. Arrangements can be made with a Registered Firearm Dealer to sell the guns on the owner’s behalf.
Q: “Guns would only be destroyed by order of a court or if disclaimed by the owner.”
A:The Police Property Act will entitle destruction of the property if an owner does not reply to a letter sent with a 28-day warning of destruction. The police do not auction guns surrendered to them.