Bailiwick of Guernsey

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a Crown Dependency and as such the firearm laws there have been closely based on those of Great Britain for many years.  The Bailiwick is divided into several islands and different islands have slightly different laws.  The principal pieces of legislation are the Dangerous Weapons (Alderney) Law 1965, the Firearms (Guernsey) Law 1998 and the Firearms (Sark) Law 2001.  The Guernsey law also applies to the islands of Herm and Jethou.  This law was subsequently amended by the Firearms (Guernsey) (Amendment) Law 2000.

Because of the great similarities between Guernsey and British law, this is a brief summary and for further information, see the entry for Great Britain.

The principal Guernsey law is a consolidated version of British law including the amendments up to 1988.  This means that the handgun ban and the changes made by the European Firearms Directive as well as the move from three-year to five-year validity of certificates (as well as other changes to the licensing system) are not included in Guernsey law.  The law on Sark is very similar to the Guernsey law with some differences mainly relating to lack of inclusion of the provisions of the Firearms Act 1982, the disposition of licensing fees and the licensing authority being a committee rather than the police.

There are some other provisions unique to the controls on the Bailiwick which do not exist in British law:

  • a person must have a “good reason” to be issued a Shotgun Certificate;
  • ordinary shotgun ammunition and components parts require a Shotgun Certificate to possess (in Great Britain, only the acquisition of shotgun ammunition requires a certificate).  Thus the police can impose limits on the amounts of shotgun ammunition a certificate holder can acquire and possess and generally do set a relatively low limit;
  • firearms requiring a Firearm Certificate (FAC) to possess (“section 1 firearms”) are generally limited to use at approved ranges only except with the express written permission of the police.  In addition the police generally attach a condition to FACs only allowing the acquisition and possession of ammunition at approved gun clubs;
  • de-activated firearms require a “de-activated firearm certificate” to possess, such a certificate is only issued for firearms de-activated in accordance with section 8 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 after the firearm has been inspected by the police;
  • certificate holders are required to have death and bodily injury public liability insurance policies with an insured value of at least £1,000,000;
  • in addition to the lack of the ban on “small firearms”, the law does not place a restriction on the magazine capacity of shotguns held with a Shotgun Certificate as in British law;
  • age limits relating to the possession of firearms and the grant of certificates are sometimes higher.  A person must be at least 18 years old to be issued an FAC or to acquire a firearm, except a shotgun can be received as a gift by a person aged at least sixteen.  There is a “restricted shotgun certificate” allowing minors to use shotguns in the presence of another certificate holder at an organised meeting and a “shotgun training certificate” that allows a person who is at least sixteen years old to use a shotgun while supervised by another person listed on the certificate who also holds their own shotgun certificate;
  • visitor permit requirements are less complex than in GB, mainly to accommodate easier recognition of certificates issued on other islands in the Bailiwick and also those issued on Jersey – a separate visitor’s permit is however still required;
  • there is a licensing law contained in the Firearms (Guernsey) (Amendment) Law 2000, which requires a separate licence to have a loaded shotgun in a public place (in addition to “lawful authority or reasonable excuse”, which exists in Guernsey and British law);
  • the discharge of firearms is generally prohibited on Sundays.