To Hang Or Not To Hang (Guns That Is)?

The debate on hanging is one which carries on and on. If you do hang, you might be making a mistake which can't be corrected later, but if you don't hang, you might regret it also.

I'm talking about antique firearms in this issue. If you hang something up on the wall which looks absolutely superb over the fireplace, and it is not on your certificate because it's just a wall-hanger, you need to be sure that you are not going to fall foul of the law. It could get stolen, or your local Constabulary might pay you a call.

Your average police officer doesn't have the same expertise in firearms matters. Because firearms training is given to so few, not all officers know the difference between prohibited guns, those subject to the two main licensing procedures, and those which can be kept without a licence.

Like many others, I started out with a hammergun. It was made in the 1950s, in the Gardone Valley in Italy. It weighed about the same as a modern O/U, and was choked full and extra-full, but it didn't half bring down high pigeon, and when I started game shooting (high birds only), it always aroused great interest. One chap who asked to look at it practically dropped it straight away - he explained that he had never, on principle, touched any gun which wasn't English, and this one had taken him in because the barrels bore the legend "Made in Sheffield - Whitworth Steel" or some such.

It was getting a bit loose a couple of years ago, and needed too much investment in lockwork too, so I tried without success to persuade my interior designer to let me get it deactivated and hang it up in a suitable spot. I part-exchanged it for an AYA No4 instead, and sort of regret not keeping it in my cabinet.

There remains in me, and if truth were told, in the heart of every shooting man, the desire to accumulate pieces of history around us relating to our wonderful sport. That gun, although just 50 or so years old, was something special because of its age. Many others have a grand collection of guns which they hardly use, but can't bring themselves to dispose of due to sentimental reasons. Some go to the trouble and expense of getting a FAC just to hang onto the old short-barreled 9mm garden gun which Father used to start them out on.

There is no definition of "antique" in the Firearms Act 1968, so each item is assessed on its own merits. Certain general guidelines have been given about particular matters, however.

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Antique firearms are exempt from...

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