SECTION 11(4) OF THE FIREARMS ACT 1968 (AS AMENDED)
The Section 11(4) exemption is widely used by clubs and organisations affiliated to the NSRA to assist in the proper and effective management of clubs and organisations. The exemption provides the flexibility to clubs and organisation to allow for recruitment of new members, to introduce newcomers to the sport of target rifle shooting and to provide effective, safe management of the clubs and organisations. The text of Section 11(4) is shown below.
‘A person conducting or carrying on a miniature rifle range (whether for a rifle club or otherwise) or shooting gallery at which no firearms are used other than air weapons or miniature rifles not exceeding ·23 inch calibre may, without holding a certificate, have in his possession, or purchase or acquire, such miniature rifles and ammunition suitable therefor; and any person may, without holding a certificate, use any such rifle and ammunition at such a range or gallery.’
The use of Section 11(4) will always be subject to scrutiny as it permits the possession of .22” rifles and ammunition without the need to hold a FAC. The latest review of Section 11(4) is likely to be included as part of the firearms safety consultation, which will take place in the near future, however as yet no date has been set. The NSRA is fully engaged in discussions involving the use of Section 11(4), and is defending the use of the exemption by law abiding clubs and organisations.
The NSRA opposes the removal of, or any amendment to Section 11(4), which further restricts clubs and organisations. Unfortunately, the NSRA is a lone voice in this endeavour, as the many of the shooting organisations within the UK believe that Section 11(4) cannot be sustained in the current climate and propose that operators of Section 11(4) should have to obtain a FAC or become a RFD before being permitted to operate a range under the exemption.
It has come to the attention of the NSRA that certain Firearms Licensing Managers (FLMs) are advising clubs the use of Section 11(4) exemption will cease by the end of January 2020, and are recommending that target shooting clubs should transfer any firearms and ammunition held under Section 11(4) to the club FAC, or if the organisation operating the range does not have a FAC, to acquire one. Clubs and other organisations should be aware that Section 11(4) is an exemption within the 1968 Firearms Act, and as such it cannot be abolished or withdrawn unless the Act is amended, which requires primary legislation. That is to say a Bill must to be passed through both Houses of Parliament, followed by Royal Assent and a commencement Order. Therefore there is little likelihood of such legislation being passed before the end of January 2020. The FLMs in question are claiming that they have been informed of this change by the Home Office. The NSRA has checked and no such information has been circulated by the Home Office.
The NSRA advice is for affiliated clubs and organisations to retain the use of Section 11(4) and not to follow the incorrect advice to transfer firearms to club certificates. The NSRA will continue to support clubs and organisations with advice on this issue and should any club or organisation have any questions relating to the use of the Section 11(4) exemption, they should contact the NSRA for further advice and information.