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Exceptions

Following Firearms Legislation in 1997 handguns, i.e. pistols and revolvers of any calibre are regarded as prohibited guns and, therefore, with a very few exceptions no person in the United Kingdom will be authorised to possess such guns.

These exceptions are as follows:

Animal Slaughtering Instruments

Some slaughtering instruments are prohibited by the 1997 Act; however the Act allows licensed slaughterers to buy, possess and sell them if they have a firearm certificate which allows them to do so.

Humane Killing of Animals and Veterinary Treatment

People who need pistols or revolvers to kill animals humanely - for instance, veterinary surgeons - can buy, possess and sell them if they have a firearm certificate which allows them to do so. The certificate must specify that the handgun is only to be used for the humane killing of animals. There are similar arrangements for people who need guns to administer veterinary tranquilliser and other treatment.

Shot Pistols

People who need shot pistols in .410 or 9mm rim-fire for shooting rats and other vermin in confined spaces can buy, possess and sell them if they have a firearm certificate which allows them to do so. The certificate must specify that the shot pistol is only to be used for shooting vermin.

Athletics Starting Guns

Race starters can have a pistol or revolver in their possession at an athletics meeting to start races. They may have one in their possession at other times if they hold a firearm certificate or visitor’s firearm permit - for instance, to allow them to keep it at home. The certificate or permit must specify that the pistol or revolver is only to be used for starting races.

Trophies of War

Owners of handguns held as trophies of war may keep them, provided that the trophy was acquired before 1946 and they hold a firearm certificate or visitor’s firearm permit for it.

Historic Handguns

The 1997 Act allows owners of historic handguns to continue to retain them under strict conditions. There is a separate leaflet giving full details of this. You may obtain a copy of this leaflet from the firearms licensing department.



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