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UK law on shooting a RIF in a garden


ModernTimes
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I need a place to test shoot my gun for some modifications I am making and I don't want to damage anything in the house so the best area to do the testing is the garden however I'm unsure of how my neighbours would respond.

 

Last thing I want is a armed unit called to my address. I thought about wrapping the RIF in a bag or hiding it in a bunker style thing but I feel like it would just cause even more suspicion that I'm doing something illegal/bad or shooting an actual gun.

 

What is the law like in the UK? My RIF is fully blacked out and I do not have a defence at the moment since I have not been enough times. Do I inform the police of it? Do I go ahead and just shoot it in the garden like a normal daily activity?

 

My initial idea was to call the cops and tell them so that if anyone calls they know what's going on.

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The rules are fairly simple.

 

Don’t cause distress or upset to 

your neighbours.

 

Nothing you fire may leave your boundary, nor anything you hit fall out of your boundary.

 

Then there is the tricky one, you cannot fire anything within 50ft of a public highway (footpath, road or path)

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As above. It might be worth having a chat with the neighbours who might see you to stop any possible misunderstandings. 

6 hours ago, ModernTimes said:

What is the law like in the UK? My RIF is fully blacked out and I do not have a defence at the moment since I have not been enough times

The defence is for buying, importing and manufacturing rifs, not ownership 

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3 hours ago, rocketdogbert said:

The rules are fairly simple.

 

Don’t cause distress or upset to 

your neighbours.

 

Nothing you fire may leave your boundary, nor anything you hit fall out of your boundary.

 

Then there is the tricky one, you cannot fire anything within 50ft of a public highway (footpath, road or path)

 

Not exactly.

 

image.thumb.png.7b2da1066d1c142416be3ed821ab3f4f.png

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5 minutes ago, Diemaco said:

 

Not exactly.

 

image.thumb.png.7b2da1066d1c142416be3ed821ab3f4f.png


Part of my job was highways, they have that definition wrong, so I’m doubting the veracity of anything else, but whatever, I’m not arguing lol

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4 hours ago, rocketdogbert said:

Then there is the tricky one, you cannot fire anything within 50ft of a public highway (footpath, road or path)

 

Huh, that's a new one on me. What's the offence?

 

 

2 hours ago, Cannonfodder said:

The defence is for buying, importing and manufacturing rifs

 

Selling.  There's no offence (or defence needed) for buying, if you're over 18.

 

 

OP, you're right to be cautious, but just drop round your neighbours' first and let them all know.

 

Use tabloid-level concepts that they'll understand: "like paintball without the paint", and "toy gun" rather than "RIF".  Heck, tell them that you've got a loicence for it.

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20 minutes ago, Rogerborg said:

Huh, that's a new one on me. What's the offence?

The Highways Act 1980 section 161. Although it's only an offence if you injure, interrupt or endanger someone on said highway. 

 

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/161/enacted

 

24 minutes ago, Rogerborg said:

Selling.  There's no offence (or defence needed) for buying, if you're over 18.

Oops, my mistake

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3 hours ago, Cannonfodder said:

As above. It might be worth having a chat with the neighbours who might see you to stop any possible misunderstandings. 

The defence is for buying, importing and manufacturing rifs, not ownership 

 

Really good idea. I didn't call the police to inform them because even though that sounds like a good idea, you know how the police is and if you mention anything related to a gun they'd probably start panicking and send a unit just in case.

 

I'll just do this and tell my closest neighbours either side of my house.

Edited by ModernTimes
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59 minutes ago, ModernTimes said:

 you know how the police is and if you mention anything related to a gun they'd probably start panicking and send a unit just in case.

They're human like the rest of us and 99% of people who have a negative experience with poluce is down to them failing the attitude test.

It'll be standard procedure to send armed officers to any call where firearms are involved. Better to over react to something which turns out to be nothing than under react and end up with dead coppers

 

You never know, a chat with the neighbours might even get you a new battle buddy 

Edited by Cannonfodder
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6 hours ago, rocketdogbert said:

Then there is the tricky one, you cannot fire anything within 50ft of a public highway (footpath, road or path)

 

Sure about that?....not even a Nerf dart?

 

The law is about endangering users of a public highway, pretty sure it doesn't stop you using an Airgun/RIF/Nerf Gun/Supersoaker/whatever - so long as you don't hurt, interrupt or endanger anyone in doing so.

 

From the Home Office guide to Air Weapon Safety

 

It is an offence to fire an air weapon without
lawful authority or excuse within 50 feet (15
metres) of the centre of a public road in such
a way
as to cause a road user to be injured,
interrupted or endangered.

 

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Speedbird_666 said:

The law is about endangering users of a public highway, pretty sure it doesn't stop you using an Airgun/RIF/Nerf Gun/Supersoaker/whatever - so long as you don't hurt, interrupt or endanger anyone in doing so.

Correct. I posted the link above. I wouldn't be surprised though if someone seeing a person with a gun and shitting themselves (metaphorically) could be classed as interrupting them

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17 minutes ago, Cannonfodder said:

I wouldn't be surprised though if someone seeing a person with a gun and shitting themselves (metaphorically) could be classed as interrupting them

 

Agreed.

 

My back garden is technically just about within 50ft of the centre of a public highway, but completely out of sight of the public using said highway.

 

In fact it would be impossible for anyone other than my direct neighbours either side from seeing me with an airsoft gun (and they are cool with it anyway) as my terraced house in the way of my garden and the highway.

 

I checked the laws regarding this exact issue with my local RFD when I joined an Airgun club earlier this year as I was worried about the 50ft rule myself.

 

 

Edited by Speedbird_666
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5 hours ago, Cannonfodder said:

The Highways Act 1980 section 161. Although it's only an offence if you injure, interrupt or endanger someone on said highway. 

 

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/161/enacted

 

Thanks, today I learned something. Only with "any firearm" though.  But, there's no definition, and the exemption in FA 1968 only applies to FA 1968.  So it might very well apply to us.  [flips table, rails about our tangled web of firearms legislation]

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IANAL but the spirit of the Highways Act is to physically protect highways and highway users. And this includes any kind of distraction within 50 ft.

Someone seen (or, in case of real firearms, heard) plinking could cause a distraction, regardless of distance, but only within 50 ft you can be nicked for the Highways Act.

The solution, solely for the purpose of the Highways Act, if you have to plink within the 50 ft, is not to be seen (or heard) as to not cause any potential distraction to a driver. If it is "completely out of sight" like you say then it should be fine.

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  • Jedi_Master changed the title to UK law on shooting a RIF in a garden
  • 1 month later...

The highways act is very clear and applies to FIREARMS. A RIF is not a firearm, it just looks like one, hence that rule does not apply to airsoft, but does to air rifles

 

I just talked to both my neighbours, which resulted in several rifs being passed over the fence so they could have a go as well 8-)

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3 hours ago, MadMole said:

The highways act is very clear and applies to FIREARMS.

 

But there's no definition of firearm in the Highways Act, nor a reference to the Firearms Act.  The intent is to prohibit dangerous distractions to road users: I caused a pedalist to crash by stepping out of woodland dressed as a medieval knight and his brain short circuited. ;)

 

 

3 hours ago, MadMole said:

A RIF is not a firearm

 

If under 1.3J / 2.5J, and only for the purposes of the Firearms Act, not the Highways Act.

 

 

3 hours ago, MadMole said:

it just looks like one, hence that rule does not apply to airsoft, but does to air rifles

 

I'd argue it the other way: if the prohibition is intended to apply to sound, why would it apply to air guns?  If it's appearance, why wouldn't it apply to RIFs?

 

We're probably OK, but I wouldn't be sure.

 

 

3 hours ago, MadMole said:

I just talked to both my neighbours, which resulted in several rifs being passed over the fence so they could have a go as well 8-)

 

But they didn't have loicences! 😮

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53 minutes ago, Rogerborg said:

 

But they didn't have loicences! 😮

No such thing, and a defense is only required by the seller for a sale or to import. No need at all for a defense to own, use, paint, pass over fence, shoot in your garden etc and "I play airsoft at a proper site" is a suitable one

58 minutes ago, Rogerborg said:

 

 

I'd argue it the other way: if the prohibition is intended to apply to sound, why would it apply to air guns?  If it's appearance, why wouldn't it apply to RIFs?

 

 

Nowhere does the law mention sound, it very clearly states "discharges any firearm or firework". As an airsoft RIF is neither the law doesn't apply. However it does apply to airguns as they are a firearm (albeit, a special subclass)

Think I may go and remind my opposite neighbor of this, as his show level rockets are currently freaking my dogs out and trying to shake our house apart and he is far less than 30ft from the road, and debris is reigning down everywhere including my koi pond

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2 hours ago, Rogerborg said:

 

But there's no definition of firearm in the Highways Act, nor a reference to the Firearms Act.  The intent is to prohibit dangerous distractions to road users: I caused a pedalist to crash by stepping out of woodland dressed as a medieval knight and his brain short circuited. ;)

 
Are you really Sir Kit Breakar by any chance? 😋

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19 hours ago, MadMole said:

No such thing [as a licence to play with an airsoft toy]

 

Did you genuinely think I was being serious about that? 🤔

 

 

19 hours ago, MadMole said:

Nowhere does the law mention sound, it very clearly states "discharges any firearm or firework".

☝️

👇

20 hours ago, Rogerborg said:

But there's no definition of firearm in the Highways Act, nor a reference to the Firearms Act. 

 

 

19 hours ago, MadMole said:

As an airsoft RIF is neither the law doesn't apply. However it does apply to airguns as they are a firearm (albeit, a special subclass)

☝️

👇

20 hours ago, Rogerborg said:

[An airsoft gun is not a firearm] If under 1.3J / 2.5J, and only for the purposes of the Firearms Act, not the Highways Act.

 

The only certainty going into a legal case is that the lawyers will win.

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I'd go with the CPS's prosecution definitions  https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/firearms. This defines a firearm, exempts airsoft RIF's but clearly makes Moscarts very dodgy

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10 hours ago, MadMole said:

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/firearms. This defines a firearm, exempts airsoft RIF's

 

But only for the purposes of the Firearms Act.  I agree that the most common-sensical interpretation of the Highways Act would be to use the Firearms Act definition. However, we've seen both the police and prosecuting authorities get the red mist on regarding airsoft guns, and push on with at least one "hang him, then let the charges be read out!" prosecution that resulted in exculpation only by the grace of God (and the Fiscal's incompetent evidence tampering).

 

I wouldn't want to be a test case, is my point, and would urge being very circumspect with anything that looks remotely like a firearm, on or near any public place, lest the statute book be thrown to see what sticks.

 

 

10 hours ago, MadMole said:

but clearly makes Moscarts very dodgy

 

Mmm, TAG launchers in particular seem to be getting up towards the upper ~16J limit of airgun energies based on the claimed velocity and mass.  And then there's HPA brrrrt-cannons that can shoot over 1.3J with just a nudge of the regulator.  Paintballers never imaged they'd fall foul of the law until they did, best let it happen to someone else.

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Pretty sure you're allowed to use toys (RIF's are toys if they're under a certain power?) within 50ft of a road.... the only time i've heard that law apply is when people are shooting shotgun or rifle on private land??

If the police come round to tell you off for plinking in your backgarden, file a complaint against them for wasting police time lol

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42 minutes ago, Psilosylum said:

Pretty sure you're allowed to use toys (RIF's are toys if they're under a certain power?) within 50ft of a road.... the only time i've heard that law apply is when people are shooting shotgun or rifle on private land??

If the police come round to tell you off for plinking in your backgarden, file a complaint against them for wasting police time lol

Pretty sure your wrong, & even if your not, the last bit definitely fails the "attitude test", which as everyone knows, the plod will always win in the long run, if there isn't a precise law to combat an airsoft related "offence", a loosely fitting one will be made to fit lol. 

 

Plus when it comes to Airsoft, we need people on our side, especially the police & other figures of authority, otherwise every negative police report is another nail in the coffin for Airsoft in its current form, not something I want to see change. 

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