FAQs

Section 7

Below are some of the key parts of Section 7(3). These are all extracts from the Home Office's "Guidance on Firearms Licensing Law" (April 2016).

 

Conversion of Firearms

2.61

section 7(3) of the 1988 Act exempts from the provisions of section 7(2) any firearm where the barrel has been shortened by a registered firearms dealer for the sole purpose of replacing part of it so as to produce a barrel not less than 24 inches in length. This allows firearms dealers to cut off from a rifled barrel which is 24 inches or greater in length a damaged or worn part, drill out the rifling from the remaining part of the barrel and add a smooth-bored section so as to produce a barrel not less than 24 inches in length. 

 

Part of a collection

9.19

The terms of section 7(1) require that the person must be authorised by a certificate, subject to a condition that he only possesses, purchases, or acquires it for the purpose of its being kept or exhibited as part of a collection. As this is a statutory requirement, the police must be satisfied that the collection is genuine, rather than merely a device to get round the terms of the Act. The same principle applies where a section 7(3) application depends upon the firearm forming a part of a collection (see paragraph 9.19 and sub paragraph 9.26 (iv)). See Chapter 13 for further information on collecting firearms. 

9.20

In deciding whether a gun is part of a collection, the police will wish to consider the following points:

(i) A “collection” of firearms will normally have to consist of several related firearms of historic interest, rather than only one or two guns (but see (iii) below about being part of a larger collection of other artefacts). For example, these might be other firearms to which section 7(1) might apply, guns held at a designated site under section 7(3), or section 1 or section 2 firearms, or “antique” firearms held under the terms of section 58(2) of the 1968 Act, or muzzle-loading guns. These should all be part of a coherent collection, rather than held for game-shooting or other purposes.

 

(ii) The collection would be expected to be of historic interest, rather than simply of personal or sentimental interest to the owner. Owners would normally be expected to produce supporting evidence, for example a letter from a national museum or a relevant society or interest group, that the collection was of genuine historic value.

 

(iii) A firearm could be possessed under this section if it is part of a collection of other artefacts so long as the firearm is a significant component of the collection. This may be the case where the firearm forms a small part of a larger and established collection of related historic items, for example those relating to a famous historical figure. The police may reject “collections” of other artefacts put forward mainly to support the possession of a single firearm;

 

(iv) Genuine collectors of firearms for their own interest will often, though not always, be established members of the learned societies in this field, for example the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association or the Vintage Arms Association; 63 Guide on Firearms Licensing Law

 

(v) The collection will usually need to be established and substantial before a firearm certificate, or Section 7 variation, is granted. The police will not normally grant a certificate for a single gun to begin a collection, unless there is very strong evidence that this will, in a short period of time, form part of a larger collection (although some collectors may have smaller collections). It should be recognised that since 1997, the availability of this category of firearm is much reduced and hence it may not be easily or quickly acquired;

(i) If a firearm certificate is granted in respect of a collection, the police will wish to consider applications to acquire further historic firearms on individual merits. In particular, the police will wish to be satisfied that any new guns will form a proper part of the existing collection which may have more than one theme;

(ii) Anyone wishing to begin a collection will have to provide evidence of a genuine and well-established interest in historic firearms (see also (v) above).

9.21

If the gun falls into the above category and forms part of a genuine collection, then it might be eligible to be kept at home without ammunition. The term ‘at home’ is a term used in this guidance rather than set in legislation. Section 7(1) refers to a certificate allowing the firearm to be in the person’s possession. If the gun does not fall into the above category, or if the owner wishes to fire the gun, then section 7(3) may apply. While the term “at home” is used to distinguish these guns from those held at a designated site, this does not preclude the owner from removing the guns under the authority of their certificate, for example to take them to an auction, or an exhibition of historic arms or illustrate a lecture. Notification to police is only required where this is a condition of the certificate. Such a condition is not standard and would need to be agreed and where used, carefully worded for the circumstances.

9.23

It should be noted that section 7(3) can be used for collecting purposes, either as an extension of a section 7(1) collection, or in its own right. “Relevance to a collection” can be a factor in deciding on the acceptability of a firearm under sections 7(1) or 7(3). Thus, for instance, a comprehensive collection of British military revolvers could, for example, be expected to include what was once a relatively common .38 Enfield of the 1930s or 1940s alongside a rare .476 Enfield Mark I of 1879.

Firearms to be stored at a designated site

9.24

Section 7(3) provides that owners keep and use their guns at a site designated by the Secretary of State if they hold a firearm certificate issued by their local police. In order to qualify for this exemption, a gun must meet the criteria set out in section 7(3). Being authorised by a certificate to acquire a firearm subject to a section 7(3) exemption is specific to a particular firearm. It should not be a “blanket” authority to acquire any firearm to which this exemption applies. In cases of older handguns which do not have a serial number, the make, model and calibre would be sufficient information.

9.25

In reaching a decision as to whether a firearm falls within the terms of section 7(3), the police may wish to consider how all of the criteria set out in that section might apply. A firearm might qualify for the exemption under several related headings; for example an old gun of unusual design of which very few examples survive will meet several criteria. However, each criterion stands in its own right, and the police need only be satisfied that the gun falls within one of the criteria in order for it to be included. In assessing each gun, the police will wish to consider the following four criteria: (i) historical importance; (ii) aesthetic quality; (iii) technical interest; and (iv) particular rarity.

 
 

Technical interest

9.30

Section 7(3) provides that owners keep and use their guns at a site designated by the Secretary of State if they hold a firearm certificate issued by their local police. In order to qualify for this exemption, a gun must meet the criteria set out in section 7(3). Being authorised by a certificate to acquire a firearm subject to a section 7(3) exemption is specific to a particular firearm. It should not be a “blanket” authority to acquire any firearm to which this exemption applies. In cases of older handguns which do not have a serial number, the make, model and calibre would be sufficient information.

 

Designated sites

9.37

At present (June 2014) sites designated by the Secretary of State under section 7(3) for the keeping and use of historic pistols are as follows:

i. The National Shooting Centre, Bisley Camp, Surrey

ii. The Barbican Armoury, Brancepeth Castle, County Durham

iii. The Leicester Shooting Centre, Leicester

iv. The Tameside Shooting Centre, Greater Manchester

v. The Wednesbury Marksmen, West Midlands

vi. Lincolnshire Shooting Centre, Lincolnshire

vii. Bedfordshire County Rifle and Pistol Association

viii. Hertfordshire & Essex Shooting Association

ix. Valley Arms, Ruthin, Denbighshire

x. The Hastings 1066 Rifle & Pistol Club, Sussex

xi. The Target Sports Centre, Dorset

9.39

Section 7(3) does not authorise the possession of firearms outside the designated site. If the owner wishes to remove the gun (for example to transfer it to another designated site) this will normally require a carrier holding the Secretary of State’s authority under section 5 and prior police authority to amend the certificate conditions stipulating the new designated site or “at home” if the gun is a 7(1) that had been held at a 7(3) designated site and is being removed by the owner. Also where a section 7(3) firearm is of a type that could be held as a section 58.2 firearm, but for the fact of it being held for firing at a designated site, the status of the firearm can be changed back to section 58.2 so as to allow the owner to remove it from the designated site. This change in status also applies to firearms that qualify for section 7(1) so that they can also be transported by their owners. The change in status will require the permission of the licensing authority prior to the movement of the firearms. The change in status of such a firearm should be made by a letter to the licensing authority. 

9.40

The main purpose of section 7(3) is to allow guns of historic interest to be preserved and studied, including occasional shooting. It is not intended to allow for competitive target shooting, and nor is there any obligation on owners to fire their guns or regularly visit the site.

 

 

 

Ammunition

9.42

It must be noted that the section 7(3) exemption does not cover ammunition. Therefore a section 5 authority would be needed for prohibited ammunition and a firearm certificate would be required for section 1(1)(b) ammunition. Most handgun ammunition will be section 1. Where a certificate holder wishes to fire their firearm held under section 7(3), the ammunition for that firearm should be kept at the designated site unless no section 7(1) handguns in that chambering are held, when section 1 ammunition may be held at home. The certificate should be so conditioned. 

 

 

 

Application

10.8

Applicants are required to enter the calibre and type of firearm(s) and ammunition to be purchased or acquired. The information will normally need to be specific and not cover a range of calibres or a generic group such as .22 CF (centrefire). Form 201 does not require the serial number to be given of the firearm(s) that the applicant wishes to purchase or acquire, as this information is not normally available. There is an exception to this: applicants may include, where available, the identification number of a handgun being acquired under section 7(1) or section 7(3) of the 1997 Act. Normally, the identification number or other identifying mark will be entered by the transferor in Table One at the back of the firearm certificate.

 

 

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