When the Crime & Security Act received Royal Assent in 2010, one element relating to airguns – Section 46 - was held in abeyance, awaiting ‘activation’. By way of a Commencement Order, the government has now activated it – so from 10 February, it is now a legal requirement of all airgun owners to take ‘reasonable precautions’ to prevent unauthorised access to their airgun by anyone under 18 years old.
First and foremost, an in anticipation of the incorrect reporting we're going to see and hear in the UK's anti-shooting media, let me emphasise one thing.
This new legislative requirement DOES NOT MEAN you need to store your airguns in a Level 1 gun safe!
Actually, while this is 'yet another law' levied indirectly on the airgun shooting community (by way of a 'catch-all' statute), it's not really that restrictive - and my guess is that most airgunners already comply with the new requirements. This new law relating to the storage of airguns is, in effect, just common sense.
In most cases, the law is going to apply to airgunners who have people under the age of 18 either in their household, or as visitors – but all that’s required to comply with the new provisions is a simple measure to prevent those minors from gaining ‘unauthorised’ access to the air rifles or pistols. It does not mean that you have to invest in a high level home security system, like a police-approved gun safe and/or household alarm system.
Simply storing your airgun in a lockable cupboard, where the keys are kept securely in the presence of adults will suffice – although this should be in the main property, rather than in a shed or out-house.
Alternatively, you could fit some form of lock – like a trigger lock – or security cord (anchored to a solid wall) which stops anyone from operating the gun. It goes without saying that the guns should be stored in an unloaded state and pellets should be kept separately, preferably also under lock and key.
And when you're out and about with your airgun, if you ever have to put it down when there are minors nearby, you must remember to take steps to prevent unauthorised access by them. (For instance, you may need to padlock the rifle case, or lock it in the boot of your car.)
But, like I said, It’s basic common sense – except that if you ignore these new requirements, you now face a fine of £1,000.