UK: Tory Gov Set to Further Regulate Antique Firearms and Air Guns

Union Jack UK Flag NRA-ILA
UK: Tory gov set to further regulate antique firearms and air guns. IMG NRA-ILA

U.S.A. -( If you thought endless COVID-19 orders and lockdowns were enough to satisfy the United Kingdom government’s totalitarian impulse, think again. Even as millions of Brits are losing their livelihoods, the busybodies in Her Majesty’s Government are hard at work looking for new ways to diminish their rights through gun control. With the UK already home to some of the most draconian gun control in the world, the so-called “Conservative” government has now set its sights on further restricting antique firearms and air guns.

Under UK law, an individual may not possess, purchase, or acquire a shotgun or rifle without a shotgun or firearm certificate. The onerous application process requires an applicant to divulge sensitive personal information, including medical data and contact information for the applicant’s general practitioner. An applicant must detail their firearm storage arrangements, which are subject to warrantless inspection. The applicant must also provide justification for possessing a shotgun or rifle and two character references.

Further, civilians are prohibited from possessing semi-automatic rifles in any caliber larger than .22 rimfire. The civilian possession of handguns is prohibited in all portions of the United Kingdom other than Northern Ireland. Those in Northern Ireland may apply for Personal Protection Weapon license in order to carry a handgun for self-defense. The license is usually reserved for politicians, ex-law enforcement, and the otherwise well-connected.

Under the Firearms Act of 1968, a shotgun or firearm certificate is not required for “an antique firearm which is sold, transferred, purchased, acquired or possessed as a curiosity or ornament.” The statute does not provide a definition of “antique firearm.” However, the UK Home Office has issued guidance on what should fall under the definition.

In the April 2016 “Guide on Firearms Licensing Law,” the Home Office stated,

            Old firearms which should benefit from exemption as antiques

Pre-1939 firearms to benefit from exemption as antiques are as follows:

(a) All muzzle-loading firearms;

(b) Breech-loading firearms capable of discharging a rimfire cartridge other than .22 inch or .23 inch (or their metric equivalents), 6mm or 9mm rimfire;

(c) Breech-loading firearms using ignition systems other than rimfire and centrefire (these include pin-fire and needle-fire ignition systems, as well as the more obscure lip fire, cup-primed, teat fire and base fire systems);

(d) Breech-loading centrefire arms originally chambered for one of the obsolete cartridges listed in Appendix 5 and which retain their original chambering;

(e) Shotguns and punt guns chambered for the following cartridges (expressed in imperial measurements): 32 bore, 24 bore, 14 bore, 10 bore (2 and 2 inch only), 8 bore, 4 bore, 3 bore, 2 bore, 1 bore, 1 ¼ bore and 1 ½ bore, and vintage punt guns and shotguns with bores greater than 10. It also includes vintage (pre-1939) rifles in these bores

As noted in the document, “Appendix 5” provided a list of chamberings for obsolete cartridges that would satisfy the “antique firearm” definition. It is important to note that in order to possess ammunition for a firearm that meets the Home Office guidance on “antique firearms” an individual must first obtain a shotgun or firearm certificate. Moreover, modern replicas of firearms that meet the Home Office “antique firearm” criteria are still subject to the shotgun or firearm certificate requirement.

On November 9, the Home Office published “Proposals for implementing legislation to define antique firearms.” The document outlined the government’s intent to adopt a definition of “antique firearm” by regulation to replace the current guidance. For the regulation, the government used the current Home Office guidance as a starting point. However, the regulation changes the current guidance in a manner that will further encumber the owners of thousands of historic weapons.

The regulation will eliminate the “antique firearm” exemption for pre-1939 firearms chambered in several calibers. According to the document, these chamberings include,

 .320 British (also known as .320 Revolver CF, short or long)

.41 Colt (short or long)

.44 Smith and Wesson Russian

.442 Revolver (also known as .44 Webley)

9.4mm Dutch Revolver

10.6mm German Ordnance Revolver

11mm French Ordnance Revolver M1873 (Army)

Following the change, those who intend to maintain possession of a firearm chambered in one of these calibers will be forced to obtain a firearms certificate. The government estimated about 26,000 firearms will fall under the new restrictions.

In a small concession to the gun collecting community, a current owner of a firearm chambered in one of the targeted calibers will not be required to provide justification for obtaining a firearms certificate. Further, a handful of previously unlisted obsolete cartridges will be added to the current Home Office guidance list in the final regulation.

The government also expressed its intent to convene a “reference group” to review and update the “antique firearms” regulation every three years. Given the UK government’s authoritarian inclinations, it would be reasonable for gun collectors to expect further restrictions on a triennial basis. In a government press release announcing the regulatory changes, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse made clear,

“The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world – we will do everything in our power to make sure it stays that way.”

On November 24, the Home Office began the consultation process (akin to the U.S. regulatory comment period) on a handful of gun control proposals. These included new storage mandates for owners of .50 BMG rifles, increased regulation of certain times of small caliber and air rifle ranges, and further control of ammunition components. Chief among the potential gun controls are new restrictions on the use and storage of air guns. In announcing the consultation period, Malthouse mirrored his comments on the “antique firearms” regulation, stating,

“Our gun laws are among the toughest in the world – we are determined to ensure they stay this way to keep the public safe.”

Under UK law, a firearm certificate is not required to possess or purchase an air gun. However, in Scotland, an individual must acquire an Air Weapon Certificate in order to own an air gun.

At present, air gun owners are required to take reasonable precautions to prevent a person under the age of 18 from gaining unauthorized access to the air gun. Those under the age of 18 are generally prohibited from possessing an air gun. However, this prohibition does not apply to those over the age of 14 who are in possession of an air gun on private property with the consent of the property owner or occupier.

This system permits parents to make decisions about how and when to introduce their teenage children to shooting sports. It also allows for a parent to gauge the maturity of their own child and determine when, after the age of 14, it is appropriate for them to be trusted to use an air gun in an appropriate manner.

The Tories’ proposal would take this decision out of the hands of parents and replace it with a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic approach. The November 24 document noted, “We propose to remove the exception that allows young persons who are at least 14 years of age to have unsupervised possession of air weapons on private premises.” Under the proposal, teenagers would not be able to practice target shooting with an air gun on their parents’ own property unless supervised by an adult. Further, the Tories propose to require that parents lock “the air weapon out of sight when not in use and storing the ammunition separately” whenever a person under the age of 18 is on the premises.

How better to ensure a future with fewer gun owners than to prevent the youth from being introduced to shooting sports and responsible gun ownership in the first place?

Once again, the UK experience should serve as a dire warning for American gun owners. Anti-gun advocates and politicians’ desire to control others cannot be satiated. Therefore, any attempt at appeasement is folly.

About NRA-ILA:

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess, and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit:

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike the Limey

It’s noteworthy that EVERY major restriction on firearms ownership in the UK has been introduced by Conservative governments, all the way back to 1920. This incessant chipping away at the rights of UK shooters does little or nothing to reduce crime involving firearms, to the point where I think it’s intended to dissuade anyone from taking up shooting. One point on the article: Semi auto firearms are allowed ONLY in .22 rimfire, so .17 rimfire is excluded (illogical? You bet…). You guys in the US have a tough fight ahead in protecting your rights from the incoming administration & I… Read more »


Gun control is never-ending.

It is only possible if government employees (with guns) enforce it.

Mystic Wolf

This is thesame thing that quid-pro-joe wants for this country, as he thinks that if the people no longer have guns the crime rate will go down, the problem with that type of thinking is that the criminals will not give up their guns. What will happen is that there will be an up raising across the country, then the Civil disobedience will start znd soon after the Civil War will start, and quid-pro-joe will be more than happy to bring in his friends from china to help quell the fighting. Yeah this country is going to be in for… Read more »


Yup. The world order demands Subservience !!!


Here is the difference. In the US we are Citizens of a Constitutional Republic. In the UK you are subjects. That is why you are subjected to this level of abuse.


Mike is one of us.

We seem to be subjected to more and more abuse even though there is a piece of paper that indicates it’s not allowed.

Politicians are doing the exact same thing in the U.S. as they did in the U.K. They are chipping away incessantly. The U.K. politicians are just further along in the process.


How ironic, the current, coming from the not really the being same Great Britain who fought against Nazi fascism in WWII. Many Brits who gave their lives as did the numerous allies, are now probably turning in the graves. Is same Britain putting into practice a similar device as did Nazi Germany in the German Weapons act 1938 “keeping weapons out of the wrong hands”? Can it happen here? We are indeed a constitutional republic, but that is meaningless to the democrat/communist party. And certainly meaningless to the Chinese who infiltrate more and more of our republic. If Joe and… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by macdog

These scum bags had a lot to do with aligning with China and Stealing the Presidential election. And other elections of late. This is the enemy and they are tyrants and they should not be allowed to step foot in the USA nor any of their agents.


The American democrat party must be SO jealous!
Damn Constitution.