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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/circular-0102019-firearms-regulations-2019-and-the-firearms-amendment-no2-rules-2019/0102019-firearms-regulations-2019-and-the-firearms-amendment-no2-rules-2019
1. This circular draws attention to new measures on firearms and deactivated firearms which are provided for by the Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) Rules 2019 and the Firearms Regulations 2019.
2. These changes will take effect from 12 December 2019 and introduce changes to the controls on firearms relating to:
- responsibility for secure storage arrangements in relation to certificate holders under the age of 18
- the particulars to be entered by firearms dealers into their register of transactions in order to reflect new marking requirements for firearms and essential component parts
- the notification of certain deactivated firearms held in the United Kingdom and their transfer
3. A separate note explaining the effect of the changes in Northern Ireland will be issued by the Department of Justice.
4. These changes are being made in order to implement the requirements of Directive (EU) 2017/853 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons.
5. Until EU exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this period the government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation in future once the UK has left the EU.
Arrangements for the storage of firearms held on a certificate by under 18s
6. Where a firearm certificate holder is under the age of 18, rule 2 of the Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) Rules 2019, which amends the Firearms Rules 1998, requires arrangements to be made for a person aged 18 or over to assume responsibility for the secure storage of the firearms and ammunition to which the certificate relates.
7. The person assuming responsibility must be either the certificate holder’s parent or guardian, or a person aged 18 or over who is authorised to have possession of such firearms and ammunition. It may not always be necessary for the parent or guardian to also have a firearms certificate if arrangements are made for the firearm to be secured in a cabinet with two separate locks which can only be opened when both key holders are present and one of the key holders is a certificate holder.
8. The amendments to rule 5 of the Firearms Rules 1998 make broadly similar changes in respect of shotguns held by a shotgun certificate holder who is under the age of 18. Again, the person assuming responsibility will either be the holder’s parent or guardian, or a person aged 18 or over who is authorised to have possession of such shotguns
9. Police forces have agreed that a condition on secure storage will be added to certificates when an application for grant, variation or renewal is received. In the interim, forces will make their own arrangements for advising young people of the new storage arrangements and any changes which might be required. Advice on the wording of any new condition which needs to be added will be circulated to forces by the National Police Chiefs Council.
Particulars to be entered in firearms dealer’s registers
10. Rule 2(5) of the Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) Rules 2019 amends the particulars to be entered by firearms dealers into the register of transactions under Part 4 of Schedule 5 to the Firearms Rules 1998 (firearms dealer’s register of transactions) to reflect the changes to the requirements for marking firearms under the EU Directive.
11. The information to be recorded in dealers’ registers is set out below:
- (a) in the case of firearms (other than air weapons) manufactured before 14 September 2018 and firearms of historical importance:
- (i) the class of firearms (eg shotgun, rifle, revolver or pistol)
- (ii) the calibre
- (iii) the name of the manufacturer or brand
- (iv) the country or place of manufacture, if known
- (v) the identification number (which may be the serial number) or other distinguishing mark, if present; and,
- (aa) in the case of firearms (other than air weapons and firearms of historical importance) manufactured in the United Kingdom or anywhere in the European Union or imported from outside the European Union on or after 14 September 2018:
- (i) the class of firearms (eg shotgun, rifle, revolver or pistol);
- (ii) the calibre;
- (iii) the unique marking affixed to each relevant component part, to include:
- (aa) the name of the manufacturer or brand
- (bb) the country or place of manufacture
- (cc) the serial number and the year of manufacture (if not part of the serial number)
- (dd) the model (where feasible)
- (iv) where a relevant component part, other than the frame and the receiver, is too small to have a unique marking including all of the information set out in paragraph (iii)(aa) to (dd) above, the serial number or alphanumeric or digital code instead of that information should be recorded
In the case of ammunition, dealers must now also record the batch number.
12. The effect of the changes being introduced by Rule 2(5) is the requirement for all essential component parts (as defined in section 57 of the Firearms Act 1968) to be marked either with the information at (aa) to (dd) or, where an essential component part is too small, it should be marked with a code. In determining whether a component is too small, regard should be had to Commission Implementing Directive (EU) 2019/68 which establishes a minimum font size of at least 1.6mm but a smaller font size may be used for the marking of essential components that are too small to be marked as specified in the EU Directive. This provision is due to be brought into force by 17 January 2020 and will be the subject of a separate Home Office Circular.
13. Any firearm manufactured before September 1939 will be regarded as being of historical importance.
Notification of transfer or possession of deactivated firearms
14. The Firearms Regulations 2019 introduce new requirements regarding the possession and transfer of permanently deactivated firearms in accordance with the requirements of Directive (EU) 2017/853.
15. “Deactivated firearm” means a firearm that has been deactivated in accordance with the technical specifications set out in the document published by the Secretary of State under section 8A(5) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 (controls on defectively deactivated weapons) which apply to that firearm. Firearms which were deactivated prior to 8 April 2016 are not covered by these provisions until such time as they are transferred.
16. For the purposes of regulations 1 to 4 of the Firearms Regulations 2019, “firearm” has the meaning given in relation to England and Wales and Scotland, by section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968 (interpretation) and, in relation to Northern Ireland, by Article 2(2) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (interpretation).
17. “Transfer” includes sell, give, let on hire for a period of more than 14 days or lend for a period of more than 14 days.
18. To meet the declaration requirements required by the Directive, deactivated firearms have to be notified to the “appropriate national authority” who, in relation to England and Wales and Scotland, is the Secretary of State for the Home Department. See below for details of the information to be sent to the Home Office and contact details for notifying.
Notification – transfer
19. Under Regulation 2, a person transferring a deactivated firearm to another person is required to give notice of the transfer to the appropriate national authority as set out below either before the transfer takes place or, as soon as reasonably practicable after the transfer - but only when the transfer is for a period of more than 14 days.
20. The requirement to notify the transfer of a deactivated firearm applies to all transfers of deactivated firearms for a period of 14 days or more on or after 12 December 2019.
21. The person transferring the deactivated firearm must send the following information to the Home Office:
- a description of the deactivated firearm which must include, if known, the make, calibre and serial number of the firearm
- details of the name and address of:
- the person giving notice
- the person to whom the deactivated firearm has been, or will be, transferred
22. A form is provided for this purpose and is available on GOV.UK - Notification of transfers of a deactivated firearm to the appropriate national authority.
23. The required information must then be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by registered post or recorded delivery to:
Deactivated Firearms Notification
Serious Violence Unit
5th Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
24. It is an offence under regulation 2(1) of the Firearms Regulations 2019 if a person transfers a deactivated firearm to another person and does not give notice of the transfer to the appropriate national authority in accordance with regulation 2(2). A person guilty of an offence under regulation 2(1) is liable to a fine of up to £200.
Notification – possession
25. Under Regulation 3(1), a person in possession of a deactivated firearm commits an offence unless they have given notice of the deactivated firearm to the appropriate national authority or, where the deactivated firearm has been transferred to the person, the transfer has already been notified by the person transferring it. In most instances this will avoid the need for the same deactivated firearm to be declared twice.
26. Notice, where required, must be given on or before the day on which the person first possesses the deactivated firearm or, as soon as reasonably practicable after that date. The notice must give a description of the deactivated firearm including, if known, the make, calibre and serial number of the firearm and state the person’s name and address. There is no need to notify if the person is in possession of the deactivated firearm for a period of 14 days or less.
27. A form is provided for this purpose on GOV.UK - Notification of possession of a deactivated firearm to the appropriate national authority.
28. The required information must then be submitted to: email@example.com or by registered post or recorded delivery to:
Deactivated Firearms Notifications
Serious Violence Unit
5th Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
29. It is an offence for a person to transfer a deactivated firearm and not give notice of the transfer. Where notice of the transfer is given by the person transferring the deactivated firearm, the person acquiring it does not need to also give notice. However, where a deactivated firearm has been transferred and the person who transferred the firearm did not notify the Home Office of the transfer, the person acquiring the firearm should instead notify.
30. Where a person to whom a deactivated firearm has been transferred commits an offence under regulation 3(1), it is a defence for that person to show that they reasonably believed that the transferor had given, or would give, notice of the transfer in accordance with the arrangements set out within Regulation 2. A person guilty of an offence under these Regulations is liable to a level 1 fine (£200).
31. Regulation 4 makes transitional provision in respect of regulation 3 so that where a person came into possession of a deactivated firearm before 14 September 2018, the requirement to notify that deactivated firearm under regulation 3 will not take effect until 14 March 2021.
32. In practice this means that details of deactivated firearms acquired between 8 April 2016 (the date the EU technical specifications came into effect) and 14 September 2018, and which have remained unaltered ever since do not need to be notified to the appropriate national authority until 14 March 2021. If however at any time before 14 March 2021 a person in possession of a deactivated firearm acquired before 14 September 2018 transfers that deactivated firearm, then they will need to notify the Home Office of the transfer