There has been a lot of reporting of the new Home Office Guidance to the Police in the shooting press, which has focussed on how favourable it is to the shooting community overall. Thanks are due to the shooting organisations that contributed to the consultation and co-operation that took place to compile the guidance. It is to be hoped that there will indeed be a new culture of co-operation between the shooting community and the Police.
There are still elements in the Guidance, and in the law generally which can trip up the unwary. You never could rely on common sense when it came to post 1997 firearms laws, and there are a number of areas which ought to be highlighted again and again, because they will continue to cause confusion and, therefore, convictions.
Every conviction of a normally law-abiding shooter is further ammunition to the anti-gun lobby. Even if it is a technical breach of the law, which does not call the shooter's safety or suitability into question so far as you or I are concerned. These matters can still result in criminal convictions, to be disclosed on job applications until spent, which will affect household and motor insurances, and will push up the "gun crime" figures of the local constabulary.
The Guidance's introduction says that it "is intended to assist consistency of practice between police forces ". It has chapters on everything from the law on shooting birds and animals to museum firearms licences, import and export and proofing.
What every shooter should do is to THINK before you go shooting. A basic awareness of the law is all that is required, but translating that into what we actually DO will mean that we are less likely to become another damaging statistic.
By way of reminder, it is illegal to borrow a shotgun if you do not have a shotgun certificate yourself.
You can borrow one: -
At a police-approved clayshooting ground;
From the occupier of private premises to use on those premises in his presence (the guidance states that the occupier should be within sight and earshot of the borrower).
What you can't do is go shooting with a mate who hasn't got a SGC, on someone else's land, and lend him a gun yourself. You have to get him to borrow a gun from the occupier, who must then accompany you.
On an average game-shooting day you should not have a problem, provided you think things through. Out with the tenant of the shooting rights, you can lend the tenant himself a gun, without notifying the Police, for...