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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about policing or the law? You may be able to find the answer here.

Through our frequently asked questions section we aim to help you find the answers you need without having to call us to ask for information. We've provided answers to questions on a range of topics which are regularly asked of police forces up and down the country.

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Air weapon

  • A young person below the age of 14 cannot possess an air weapon or ammunition at any time except to shoot an air weapon on private premises with the consent of the owner (as long as it does not go over the boundary), providing that they are supervised by someone who is over 21.
  • A person aged 14 –17 may borrow an air gun from a person aged 18 or over and use it on private property without supervision.
  • A person aged 14 to 17 may only carry an air gun in a public place if under the supervision of someone aged 21 or over and there is a good reason for doing so.
  • Anyone under the age of 18 may borrow and use an air gun for target practice as a member of an approved club, or at a shooting gallery for air guns or miniature rifles.
  • An adult over the age of 18 can also shoot an air rifle on private premises, shooting club or gallery and does not have to be supervised.
  • It is an offence for a person under the age of 18 to purchase or hire an air weapon or ammunition or for someone to make them a gift of an air weapon or ammunition.

Shotgun

  • There are currently no lower age limits for an applicant wishing to apply for a shotgun certificate. A person under the age of 14 years may not be granted a firearm certificate in any circumstances.
  • A person under 15 years old may not have with him assembled shotgun except while under the supervision of a person of or over the age of 21, or while the shot gun is so covered with a securely fastened gun cover that it cannot be fired.
  • A person under the age of 18 may not purchase a firearm or ammunition.

A person may also use a shotgun on private premises in certain circumstances. A person without a licence may borrow a shotgun from another person on private premises as long as:

  • the weapon is being borrowed for either hunting animals or shooting game or vermin, or, for shooting at artificial targets;
  • the lender is at least 18 years old, holds a relevant certificate, and either has the right to allow others to enter the premises for the purpose of shooting animals, game or vermin, or, is authorised in writing by such a person to lend weapons on the premises;
  • the borrower's possession of the weapon complies with any conditions set out in the lender's certificate; and
  • during the time the weapon is borrowed, the borrower is in the presence of the lender or another person aged 18 or over who holds a relevant certificate.

A person borrowing a shotgun on private premises may also purchase or acquire ammunition on the premises during the time the firearm is borrowed, as long as the ammunition is for use with the borrowed firearm, it is allowed by the lender's certificate, and it complies with any related conditions in the certificate.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.