Bailiwick of Jersey

A Crown Dependency, Jersey has gun laws that in the past have developed somewhat independently of Great Britain.  A Bill was introduced into the UK Parliament in the 1880s that would have created a permit-type system in order to possess a firearm, (essentially, an applicant would have to swear they had no intent to use the firearm in a crime), however the Bill never became law.  The States of Jersey (the legislature) however copied the Bill and in essence this required a person to obtain a permit (Port D’Armes) from his local Parish in order to possess a firearm.  Eventually, Jersey also enacted a law based on the Firearms Act 1920 which required a British-style firearm certificate for rifles and pistols (including air guns not subject to certification in GB), although the issuing authority was designated as the Connétable of the Parish of Jersey where the applicant resided, rather than the police as is usually the case.  These laws and various amending laws were consolidated in 1956.

Following the Hungerford shootings in 1987 and the enactment of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, the status of semi-automatic rifles on Jersey as well as firearms legislation in general became a contentious issue.  The Jersey Police seized a substantial number of firearms from Firearm Certificate holders, saying they were in fact machineguns, and thus prohibited under the 1956 law.  Some were in fact machineguns converted to semi-automatic (something prohibited by the 1988 Act, but not prohibited under Jersey law) and others were simply semi-automatic rifles that were not machineguns and never had been.  The police later returned some of the seized guns, but not all of them and the issue remains a point of friction between shooters on the island and the police.

In light of the 1988 Act, the reform of the gun laws on Jersey was examined, but despite the drafting of a proposed law, nothing went to the States until 1999.  After being amended in various ways, the States enacted the Firearms (Jersey) Law 2000 (this link includes amendments up to 2014).  The law has received a number of minor amendments since then, but was amended significantly by the Firearms (Jersey) (Amendment No. 2) Law 2009.  The new law makes a large number of technical clarifications to the law, for example after a Connétable fell ill, no certificates could be issued in that Parish so the law makes provision for this.  The main changes in the new law are the exemption of flare guns and low-power airguns from licensing controls (as in GB); the temporary extension of validity of a certificate to allow for renewals; the introduction of a “hunting licence” (which appears to be somewhat similar in concept to the old Game Licence) and the simplification of visitor permit procedures.  The appeals process has also been clarified, with the benefit that conditions attached to a certificate are now subject to appeal.

The licensing procedure in order to obtain a firearm certificate on Jersey is based on British law including the 1997 amendments and is virtually identical.  The main differences are that the fees are lower (£25 for grant or renewal, £10 for variation); the application is made to the Connétable of the Parish; firearm dealers can be referees; and when an applicant has target shooting as their “good reason” there is no requirement that one referee be a member of an approved club (as clubs do not necessarily need to be approved on Jersey if they do not have guest members).  Certain licensing powers are held by the Connétables; others by the police.  The Jersey Police maintain a Central Firearms Index, which in essence is similar to the National Firearm Licensing Management System in GB.  The introduction of certification for shotguns in 2000 led to the index taking considerable time to set up.  These are the statutory rules governing the operation of the law.

The following points list the other main differences between British and Jersey law not mentioned above:

  • shotguns (defined as a firearm with a smoothbore barrel at least 24 inches in length) are subject to Firearm Certificate requirements, however non-prohibited shotgun ammunition is not subject to control;
  • shotgun ammunition such as slugs and shells containing four or less shot or shot greater than .23 inches in diameter is prohibited;
  • as a result of the Firearm Certificate requirement for shotguns, this also means they are subject to the same age limits in order to acquire (seventeen years of age, except by way of gift) and possess (fourteen years of age).  Exempt airguns are also subject to the same age limits;
  • the provisions in British law that implement the European Firearms Directive (EFD) do not exist in Jersey law as Jersey is not part of the EU;
  • this means that many types of weapons and ammunition listed in Category A of the EFD are not prohibited on Jersey (however, these prohibitions have long been considered somewhat redundant as collectors can obtain exemptions in British law and the prohibitions overlap the prohibitions in the 1988 Act – the prohibitions on mortars and rocket launchers for example in that Act do appear in Jersey law);
  • expanding ammunition and expanding missiles are not subject to prohibition on Jersey (including the EFD prohibitions);
  • “small firearms”, as well as semi-automatic and pump-action rifles are not prohibited on Jersey;
  • short-barrel semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns are not prohibited on Jersey;
  • even with a hunting licence, hunting on a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or between sunset and sunrise is generally prohibited.