In Great Britain, detachable suppressors or
"sound moderators" which are intended for use as accessories
for Section 1 or Section 5 (prohibited) weapons
are subject to Section 1 licensing controls and cannot be
purchased directly by mail order. We can only deliver them
to a registered firearms dealer.
Suppressors which are are
suitable for use on full-bore rifles can also be used on
rim-fire rifles and on air weapons. If the suppressor
is intended for use exclusively on a shot gun or air weapon,
we can send it directly by mail order, although we prefer to
have the air weapon here to ensure correct fitting. Please
phone or fax us for details.
Where Section 1 licensing controls apply,
and subject to any applicable exemptions in the Firearms Act
1968, prospective purchasers are required to obtain prior authorization
on a Firearm Certificate in order to possess, purchase or
acquire a firearm suppressor.
Before granting such authorization, the
chief officer of police must be satisfied that the applicant
has a good reason to possess, purchase or acquire a suppressor.
For full-bore rifles, the most obvious "good
reason" is that, where reasonably practicable, the use of a
suppressor is required by law,
namely Regulation 7 of the Noise at Work Regulations, 1989.
Details of this and other relevant workplace safety
regulations are available on the Health
and Safety Executive website. Strictly, the above
regulations only apply to employers, employees and
self-employed persons at work, although this would include
most full and part-time stalkers, gamekeepers or pest
controllers. However, for obvious reasons, most chief officers
of police will be keen not to impede responsible sporting
shooters who wish to comply as far as practicable with HSE
workplace safety standards.
Other "good reasons" might include
reduction of recoil (approx. 30%) and reduction of
environmental noise pollution as indicated in the following
letter to Chief Constables from Assistant
Commissioner James Hart QPM BSc PhD FIMgt on behalf of the
ACPO Administration of Firearms and Explosives Licensing
8 April 2001
Dear Chief Constable,
At the March meeting of the Firearms and Explosives
Licensing Sub-Committee there was an important discussion
concerning the use of sound moderators with full-bore
Kevin O'Callaghan, of the Forensic Science Service,
spoke to the meeting concerning this matter and presented
some recent evidence from Finland to guide our decision
making. The research, which was commissioned by the Finnish
Government, clearly indicates that sound moderators used
with full bore rifles have a beneficial effect in reducing
damage to the shooters hearing and bringing the noise levels
to within safe EU limits. There is also a beneficial effect
in reducing environmental noise.
As a consequence of this evidence ACPO have revised
their guidance to reflect the above findings. This, of
course, does not alter the ACPO position that individual
applications should be judged on their merits and the final
licensing decision rests with the Chief Officer.
While the discussion centred particularly around the
taking of live quarry, it is also the view of the
Sub-Committee that the same argument may be extended to
target shooting disciplines and sound moderators would have
the same health and safety benefit within this context.
I have informed the Home Office of the ACPO view and
requested that this view is reflected in any guidance that
the Home Office produce.
We understand that the above ACPO view
will indeed be incorporated into the forthcoming revised Home
Office guidance to the police. In the meantime, in the
unlikely event of any difficulty obtaining authorization to
purchase a suppressor, we suggest that applicants should
contact the BASC
or other shooting association for advice and assistance.