The trouble with guns is…

I am a historical re-enactor. I have in the past re-enacted the “gunpowder era” from around 1640 to 1815. I have bought and used various designs of matchlock, “Firelock” and flintlock muskets and pistols during the last forty years.

During that time we have had to jump through increasingly small hoops set up by the Home Office to pursue our hobby, mainly because other people continually misuse completely different types of weapons. This has not only related to guns, but also “edged weapons”, such as swords, axes, pole-arms, spears and pikes, even if they are safely blunted for re-enactment use.

However, this diatribe relates to fire arms and shot guns; the two categories of re-enactment weapon used in my chosen period for displays of shooting. We use black powder (i.e. gunpowder) as a propellant – as opposed to an explosive. Let’s start with that one.

In Great Britain (Northern Ireland has different rules for historical reasons), most people can get a license to acquire up to 1Kg of black powder, provided that they can display a reasonable need, backed up by references. It may not be kept, but is acquired on the day, for use on the day, and any unused must be returned to the issuer.

The next stage is “acquire and keep.” this allows small quantities to be kept by the licensee. And I mean small quantities, like up to 1Kg. Above that one must have a licensed, alarmed, registered store for up to 30Kg. The powder must be kept in specified wooden safety boxes with each 1Kg separated by a fire-resistant barrier. I used to have a 30Kg store (5 boxes x 12 x 1/2Kg bottle) and if it were full I was not permitted to buy a single firework in a shop. Meanwhile folks over 18 with no license could buy the “multi-barrel mortar” style of firework with no checks whatsoever!

Returning to the guns: the rules apply equally to “live firing” or “blank firing” weapons. Muzzle loaded muskets are classed in the UK as “shot guns” and fall under the same rules as double-barreled smooth-bore hunting guns used for game shooting. You have to show a good reason to own the guns, provide references from two people of a particular social class and a doctor’s reference letter. After that, for five years and about sixty quid, you can use these guns for the specified activities and locations. You can buy and sell this type of gun to and from other shot gun license holders within reason. Each transfer must be notified to both parties’ police authority.

Fire Arms. Anything with a barrel bore over 2″ or length under 24″ is a Fire Arm. (i.e. cannons and pistols). They require a license that requires more references, a very good reason to own (The law expects you to belong to a shooting club and struggles with people who dress up in old style clothes to put on displays in fields). They cannot be freely traded without prior police permission.

Even “de-activated” guns have now become subject to scrutiny since December 2019, (following EU requirements). These are weapons that have been rendered incapable of firing. If owned before 2016 you may keep it without let or hindrance, but if you transfer it to someone else you must tell the Home Office. At this point it may require a “certificate of de-activation”, compliant with the latest rules. The process and certification may well cost more than the value of the item. These regulations were not widely published when introduced last year. I discovered them by accident, and could easily have inadvertently broken the law today.

I have spent two years trying to dispose of two reproduction 17th century flintlock pistols, but nobody can afford the expense of buying them, so unfortunately the bureaucrats have won and these weapons have been surrendered to the police for destruction.

Following previous reported incidents relating to guns certified as “destroyed” by UK Police, and the former owners finding their pistols on sale at European arms fairs, I wonder what their fate will be?

After all, if our local police can’t even be bothered to mention that the police station on their website is closed down, fenced off and moved to a new location, what hope do I have?

Disclaimer. All the above is the latest legislation to the best of my knowledge.

Published by

General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.