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Air weapon law and guidelines

Welcome to our second Blog/Discussion. Today we will look at Legislation and Safety around Air Weapons. My intention is to clarify and attempt to simplify some of the terms used in the Legislation. 

  1. It is an offence to have an Air Weapon in a Public Place without a reasonable excuse. It is ultimately for the courts to decide what a reasonable excuse is. However, it might include carrying a weapon to and from a shooting club or taking a new Gun home from a dealer.

To clarify, a Public Place is a Place the Public have access to on payment or otherwise. Could be your drive or the Gun Shop Car Park. The legislation says it will leave it to the Courts to decide if you have a reasonable excuse to have the Weapon in such a place: You can limit such concerns by always having your Gun Covered, no magazine present in Gun and no ammunition presented with the Gun.

  1. It is an offence to trespass with an Air Weapon.

To clarify, gone are the days when you could go to the woods with your trusty Air Gun and shoot squirrels. Now you need to not only consider the points raised at (1) but also, have a written permission from the Landowner that you can shoot on his/her Land. Its also advisable that even if you have permission, make a call to the Police in your area and advise them you are shooting and obtain a log number. Also, have the permission letter with you at all times. This is to avoid the Police Helicopter when a dog walker calls the Police after spotting you in your camo gear, looking like Rambo.

  1. It is an offence to have an Air Weapon if you are prohibited from possessing a firearm. Anyone sentenced to a term of imprisonment of between 3 months and 3 years (including suspended sentences) is prohibited from possessing an Air Weapon or other firearm or ammunition for 5 years. Anyone who has been sentenced to 3 years or more is banned for life.
  2. It is an offence to fire an Air Weapon without lawful authority or excuse within 50 feet (15 metres) of the centre of a public road in such a way as to cause a road user to be injured, interrupted, or endangered. To clarify, we are often asked “Can I shoot this in my garden?” Apply the rules above and ensure the pellets/BB, s do not leave your boundary.
  3. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill a pet animal or knowingly cause a pet animal to suffer unnecessarily, which could be committed by shooting at a pet animal. To clarify, I want to spend some time on this. There is new legislation afoot because a minority of our shooters are targeting pet cats. This sort of behaviour is damaging our sport. If you know someone who openly brags of doing this then report to the Police and let’s get his/her guns taken off them. There is no excuse to shoot someone’s pet. If a cat uses your garden for a toilet or is killing your songbirds, there are other means of deterring this behaviour, do the research, talk to the owner if you know them. 
  4. It is an offence to intentionally kill certain wild birds and animals. To clarify, always check what you can shoot as Pest Control.
  5. It is an offence to have an Air Weapon with intent to damage or to destroy property or to be reckless as to whether property would be damaged or destroyed. To clarify, this reckless description refers to excuses such as “I wasn’t aiming for that, it was an accident” or “I didn’t mean to do it” You were reckless as to your intent.
  6. It is an offence to have an Air Weapon with intent to endanger life. To clarify, again an area of great concern to us all. There are frequent accidents where Children are injured or worse killed through a lack of respect of the above legislation and poor security and Gun practise. A Gun in the wrong hands be it unlawful or inexperienced is a real problem for us all.

Let’s Help Encourage Responsible Ownership. HERO.


 Types of Air Weapons

I will keep this brief. The most common Air Weapons are those rifles with a muzzle velocity not exceeding 12ft/lb and those pistols not exceeding 6ft/lb muzzle velocity. Air Rifles that do exceed 12ft/lb are held only with a firearms certificate. Air Pistols that exceed 6 ft/lb are prohibited and cannot be possessed without the Authority of the Secretary of State. We will discuss Air Soft as we progress.


What can I use my Air Weapon for?

Hopefully, you will have visited your Local Gun Shop or Range before you venture into the sport. They are best placed to advise you on a host of things such as the best weapon for purpose. Do you want something for Pest Control or Target? If you have not shot before then take some lessons at a Range or shooting club. They will teach safety, handling and of course get you on target. If you know a good club, a good instructor, or a good Gun Shop that has helped you, then do tell us here.

We will discuss Safe Handling next. 


Paul​ Webb​