What happens to my guns when I die?
QI have often wondered what would happen to my shotguns in the event of my death. Obviously they are locked in a cabinet, which no one but me has access to. How would the guns be removed? Would they then be destroyed or sold? If so, would the money come back to my family?
Again, in the event of something happening to me, how would it be brought to the attention of the police? Would a family member have to contact them?
ATHE EDITOR replies: Unfortunately, this is something every gun owner has to think about – in fact, has a duty to think about, however depressing it may seem. It is distressing enough for family members to lose a loved one, without the added worry of what to do with that person’s guns. But with a bit of forward planning, you can make things easier for them. The BASC website has some very useful advice. Here are some of their suggestions:
Take a large envelope and mark up that it should only be opened after your death. Inside, put: instructions to write to the firearms licensing department informing them of your death and requesting a temporary permit under Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968. This authorises your personal representatives to be in lawful possession of your guns until they decide what to do with them. A Section 7 is issued free of charge and for a limited term. Three months is an appropriate period to ask for; contact details for the firearms licensing department; what guns you own and what they are worth (include receipts if you have them); up-to-date copies of your firearm and shotgun certificates and where the originals are likely to be found; what your wishes are for the disposal of your guns if you have not included them in your will – if they are in your will, any informal instructions to your executors; and the details of any willing friend who would be prepared to look after your guns until a decision is made for their disposal – he/she will need to be the holder of the temporary permit. Guns may also be deposited at a registered firearms dealer or licensed auctioneer for sale if that is your wish.
As far as the cabinet keys go, you will need to strike a balance between keeping the location of the keys a secret during your lifetime and hiding them somewhere that isn’t too difficult for them to be found after a detailed search by your executors when you have died.
Normally, firearms licensing managers are very helpful in these circumstances. If you have planned ahead and left instructions for your family, there should be no problems.
You can find more detailed information here: www.basc.org.uk