The Isle of Man has a four-tier system of control of guns:
1) Not regulated – essentially replica guns and toy guns (note: there is no exemption for antiques.)
2) Firearms requiring a Regulated Weapon Certificate – air pistols with a muzzle energy of 6 ft/lb or less, air rifles with a muzzle energy of 12 ft/lb or less, shotguns (the same as defined in GB law) and crossbows with a draw weight of more than 1.4 kg require a Regulated Weapon Certificate.
Application is made to the Chief Officer of Police, who shall grant a certificate to a person unless the person is under 17 years old; is prohibited from possessing firearms; or is for any reason considered to be a danger to the public.
Certificates are valid for ten years. A fee of £120 must be paid on application or renewal. There is no requirement for registration of “regulated weapons”, however certificate holders are required to keep a list of weapons they own.
Certificate holders can acquire and possess as many regulated weapons as they please. Conditions attached to the certificate require the holder to take reasonable precautions to prevent their theft. A certificate is required to acquire or possess ammunition for a regulated weapon.
3) Firearms requiring a Firearm Certificate (FAC) – all other firearms (including antiques) require a firearm certificate. Application is made to the Chief Officer of Police. As in GB, “good reason” must be shown for each firearm and ammunition that the applicant wishes to possess.
Target practice and pest control are the two most common reasons given. The application process is largely the same as in GB with a requirement to give two references (who live on the island) and to be a member of a gun club (for target shooting), however those two provisions are not included in primary legislation as in GB.
As in GB, an applicant must have secure storage for the firearms and ammunition. Other licensing provisions (such as age limits) are also similar to GB, with some minor differences.
Certificates are valid for three years, from the 1st of April of the triennial period (computed from 1948). The application fee is £75, and the fee for renewal or variation is £65.
4) Prohibited Weapons – these types of firearm additionally require the authority of the Minister for Home Affairs as well as an FAC or registered firearms dealer certificate (RFD).
It should be noted that the classification of prohibited weapon is not as broad as in GB. “Downconverted” firearms are still legal on the Isle of Man, as are handguns, burst-fire firearms (though the police generally attach a condition to FACs prohibiting their possession) and self-loading carbines (but not rifles). In addition, there is no statutory ban on any type of ammunition other than exploding ammunition on the island. Other types of prohibited weapon as listed under GB above are prohibited however.
Contrary to popular belief, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom, though the island has various treaties recognising many UK laws and has a closer legal relationship than the other Crown Dependencies of Guernsey and Jersey. However the island has its own bicameral legislature, the Tynwald, and domestic law on the island varies in many areas compared to that of the UK. The UK has, however, until recently had a considerable influence on the island’s firearm law.
Firearms regulation in modern times began with the Games Act 1882, similar to the Gun Licence Act in the UK. This law among other things required the purchase of a Gun Licence at the Post Office to carry a firearm outside of a home. This law remained in effect on the Isle of Man in respect of shotguns until 1996!
As in Great Britain, the Defence of the Realm Act imposed severe restrictions on the acquisition of firearms on the island, and the firearm certification system was introduced with the Firearms Act 1921.
This law was amended various times in parallel with the law in Great Britain, and these laws were consolidated in the Firearms Act 1947 which is similar to the 1937 Act in Great Britain. However, the 1947 Act is still the principal Act on the Isle of Man.
The 1947 Act was amended in parallel with the 1937 Act in Great Britain, with the 1962 and 1965 Acts being enacted in 1968 on the Isle of Man. However, at this point the regulation of firearms diverged from Great Britain, as shotgun licensing was not introduced at this time and there was no consolidating Act as in Great Britain.
In 1994, the Isle of Man enacted their own unique law, the Shot Guns, Air Weapons and Cross-Bows Act 1994 which introduced Regulated Weapon Certificates for previously unregulated guns. This Act came into force at the start of 1996. It appears to have been based on the shotgun certification system prior to the 1988 Act in Great Britain.
In 1996, Section 3 of the Criminal Justice Act 1996 expanded the weapons prohibited by the 1947 Act to prohibit most (but not all) of the weapons prohibited by the 1988 Act in Great Britain. However, the other changes made by the 1988 Act were not adopted. This Act came into force at the start of 1997. Section 15 of the Schedule also expanded the 1994 Act to make the Act more fully cover ammunition for regulated weapons.
In 2001, Section 20 of the Criminal Justice Act 2001 redefined the definition of “air weapon” to include guns powered by gases other than air, thereby requiring a Regulated Weapon Certificate to possess or acquire one instead of a firearm certificate.
In 2007, Section 3 of the Criminal Justice, Police Courts Act 2007 implemented the provisions of the British Firearms (Amendment) Act 1994 and certain provisions of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, in relation to expansion of offences for having firearms or imitation firearms in a public place, trespassing with them, or threatening people with them. The Act does not ban air guns using self-contained cartridges as in the UK.
In recent years, the application forms for certificates have been changed to include requests for referees and GP information; however unlike in GB, the underlying primary legislation was not updated to allow for the request of this information.
More information is available in this Isle of Man Customs guidance.