Shotgun and firearms. Revocation and refusal of certificates

22nd December 2022

Firearm ownership in the UK is strictly regulated, and whilst it can be difficult to obtain a firearms or shotgun certificate, it is much easier to have the certificate revoked or refused.

Our expert in firearms licensing Ian Anderson explores some of the common issues around the revocation and refusal of shotgun and firearm certificates.

Why will a certificate be refused or revoked?

The police hold the power to refuse or revoke shotgun and firearm certificates for the following reasons:

  • If the person is of “unsound mind” usually evidenced by medical reports
  • If the person is of “intemperate habits” in that they misuse alcohol or drugs, or engage in aggressive or antisocial behaviour
  • If there is a “risk to public safety or the peace”. This covers everything from criminal activity to associations with persons of intemperate habits
  • If the person has received a prison sentence of three months or more (suspended or immediate) then the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm, and revocation is automatic. 

How can you appeal?

Anyone whose shotgun or firearm certificate has been refused or revoked has the right of appeal against the decision. A revocation will not be suspended during an appeal, but any seized firearms can be released to authorised licenced persons.

You must appeal within 21 days of the refusal or revocation. We recommend lodging an appeal immediately, as supporting evidence and documents can be served later.

Judges dealing with shotgun and firearm licencing appeals have a lot of discretion. They can consider all the evidence before them and come to a decision which they see as reasonable.

Every case is different, and the outcome will rest on the facts, the strength of the evidence, and the judge’s opinion of the parties involved. Our experts will argue your case with the utmost care, attention, and skill.

How can you fund your appeal?

If you are a member of a club/association such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BSAC) or the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA), you may benefit from legal expenses insurance to finance your appeal. If you fall into this category, we can organise this for you. Alternatively an appeal can be funded by the appellant. We have a range of options available to suit all budgets.

What other action can you take?

It may be beneficial to meet with the police’s Chief Officer to explore the case. We recommend making an offer to the police to do so, as even if this is refused, it can reflect well upon the licence holder in court.

Can you continue to shoot?

Provided you are not a prohibited person (due to a prison sentence), you may continue to shoot, but only in the same way as a non-certificate holder. We can provide further advice about continuing to shoot without a certificate.

We can assist with removing the prohibition on possessing a firearm following a custodial sentence.

We have had a busy year of firearms licensing matters, and it is encouraging that almost all cases have concluded positively – read about some of the cases we’ve covered this year.

We’ve also put together some frequently asked questions on shotgun and firearms licencing, however, should you have any further questions on this matter, please get in touch with Ian Anderson on 0113 849 4011.

About the Author

Ian Anderson


He has significant experience in fraud, tax, money laundering, health and safety, environmental and trading standards cases. Ian is renowned for his expertise in shotgun and firearms licensing and for dealing with matters arising out of the Proceeds of Crime Act in the Crown Court. 

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