Readers have the following queries. One wants to know if he can leave his rifle in the car after stalking. The other wants to know if he can leave his shotgun in the car while he has a business meeting. Our legal expert responds …
Can I avoid a 30-mile round trip?
Q: I’m meeting a customer at work to go shooting with. I start work at 7am and will be meeting him at 9.30am. Can I leave my gun in the car or do I have to do a 30-mile round trip to go back home and pick up my gun?
A: The law requires you to take reasonable precautions of the safe custody of your shotgun while it is in use or in transit to a place of use. “Reasonable” has to apply to the personal circumstances of the certificate holder at the time. It would be unreasonable for you to make the 30-mile round trip but if you had to drive past or near to your home en route to the place where you intended to shoot, it would be reasonable to leave your gun at home and pick it up on the way.
What I suggest you do is leave the barrels and fore-end in your car, out of sight and locked up. Take the stock and action with you into work in a holdall or grip so that it is not obviously part of a gun and keep it under your control while you work. When you go shooting at 9.30am, the components can be assembled. Be discreet — if no one knows you have part of your gun with you, so much the better. People do not worry about that which they are unaware.
And a deer stalker writes …
Q: I’ve been told I can’t leave my rifle in my car after the morning stalk or when I go out in the evening afterwards? Is this correct?
A: The whole of the legislation on the safekeeping of firearms is contained on your firearm certificate.
These circumstances say: “Where a firearm or ammunition to which the certificate relates is in use or the holder has it with him for the purpose of cleaning, repairing or testing it or for some other purpose connected with its use, transfer or sale, or the firearm or ammunition is in transit to or from a place in connection with its use or any such purpose, reasonable precautions must be taken for the safe custody of the firearm or ammunition.”
That is the Law; anything else you hear, whether from shooting acquaintances, the Home Office or from the police, is advice, NOT legislation.
I am sure you won’t need me to tell you that rifles should not be left in unattended vehicles unless there is no reasonable alternative. And if they are so left, then they should be concealed from view with the bolt and ammunition removed so that a thief cannot use the rifle, even if he breaks into, or steals the vehicle.
If you do that, you are taking the “reasonable precautions” required by the condition on your firearm certificate.