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Disposal of Firearms

How to dispose of an unwanted shotgun or firearm

If you possess a shotgun, legally held on a shotgun certificate and you decide that you no longer wish to keep it, there are various options regarding its disposal. You can:

  • Sell, give or transfer its ownership to another shotgun certificate holder who has adequate safe storage for the weapon.
  • Sell, give or transfer ownership to a Registered Firearms Dealers.
  • Surrender it at a designated police station*, from where it will usually go for destruction, unless it is of particular historical interest. In the latter case it could be given to a museum or other interested official party.
  • Have the weapon deactivated, after which it ceases to be a "firearm" within the meaning of the Acts. Consequently it no longer falls within the restrictions imposed on "firearms" by any of the Firearm Acts and Regulations.
  • Deactivation must be done officially and proved at one of the proof houses that issue the weapon with a deactivation certificate and also proof mark it. This renders the weapon incapable of being fired and incapable of being converted back to a firing condition.
  • You cannot deactivate a weapon yourself, for instance by filling in the barrel or filing off the firing pin. In such circumstances the weapon will still remain a "firearm" and must be held on a certificate. Deactivation must be carried out by a qualified gunsmith in order to meet the standard necessary for proofing.

If you hold weapons on a firearms certificate, the scenario is slightly different with regard to selling, giving or transferring them to another firearms certificate holder.

Unlike shotguns, firearms certificate holders can only possess those firearms they are authorised to acquire on their certificate. Before transferring firearms to another firearms certificate holder therefore, you must ensure that their certificate carries the authority for the calibre and weapon in question.

No such restrictions generally apply to Registered Firearms Dealers, except possibly in respect of Section 5 (prohibited) weapons. Even Registered Firearms Dealers need special authorisation from the Home Office to handle prohibited weapons.

The option to surrender weapons at a designated police station (see below) or have them properly deactivated applies equally to firearms as it does to shotguns.

Never destroy and/or dispose of a shotgun or firearm yourself

Every weapon needs to be accounted for and irrespective of what you do with a licensed weapon, you must inform the police authority which issued your certificate, exactly what you have done with it.

Unwanted Section 1 ammunition can be disposed of through another authorised firearm certificate holder, Registered Firearms Dealers, your target shooting club or surrendered at a designated police station.

If the guns are left to you in a will

The executor of the estate should obtain the necessary authority (temporary permit) for the guns to be taken to a Registered Firearms Dealer for storage pending your application for the required certificate to possess that type of weapon.

Where can I dispose of a gun?

The following Staffordshire police stations have the facilities to accept weapons- please check with individual stations for current opening times:

Deactivation of Firearms

Firearms taken to and from Proof Houses- Under section 58 (1) of the Firearms Act 1968 any person carrying firearms to or from the proof houses is exempt from the provisions of the Act, so long as the firearms are being carried for the purposes of proof. It is an offence to sell or offer for sale a shotgun which is out of proof.