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Use of firearms in theatre


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Hi everyone,


I know this topic has been covered sometime ago but I wondered if any one has or knows where to get recent information on the use of firearms in theatre!


Everything I am reading is contradictory, in one place it says that the use of blank or replica guns does not require a licence and in others it says that all firearms require a licence.


Any help is greatly appreciated



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That's the main problem with BR. Everyone has an opinion whether informed or not...!




This is the HSE guide to use of firearms and replica\deac weapons on stage.


In short, treat a replica\deac as if it were live. One person with responsibility for access control, checking the weapon is clear, secure storage. Block the scenes sensibly. Inform the local police (non-emergency number available on your local forces website) of your intention to display a replica in public (times\ locations\storage arrangements) and get a CAD number for your notification.

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If your firearm comes from a legal source, they should have access to all the local firearms officers in the local police.


The only current and complete advice will come from your police force firearms liason unit. They will be much happier to assist in advance. You will need a responsible adult to control the weapon. You could need a gun chest secured to the building.


Is the intended weapon one that can still have ammunition sourced? There are special regs for firearms that cannot have ammunition sourced - old flintlocks etc.


Some members of the WWII reenacting forums ( http://www.wwiireenacting.co.uk/forum/ ) among others are very wise and may have the weapon you need along with the required paperwork.


Still get the police on your side first!

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If the weapon is a real live firearm it will be held by the owner on a Firearm Certificate, if you wished to hire/borrow it for theatre use you too would have to hold a Firearm Certificate and have all the security etc. It's very unlikely that you would get authority to have a live firearm in a public place.


Replica firearms whether inert or blank firing come under the jurisdiction of The Violent Crime Reduction Act which makes it an offence to have such a replica weapon in a public place, which a theatre is ( this even includes childrens' toy guns and applies to edged weapons, swords spears etc).


Tha Act has a defence in law if the weapon is used for theatrical, TV, re-enactment etc.


This Act only came into force on the 1st October 2007 so things are still a bit up in the air, some police forces are wanting notification if replicas are being used in their areas, others are not.


Google Violent Crime Reduction Bill for more info but as with all legislation it's difficult for the layman to interprit.



Have a look at Howorth Wrightson Ltd they have a specialised department for weapons in theatre and are happy to discuss things with you. Howorth Wrightson

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As Jivemaster suggests contact your local Police Firearms officer s/he can probably explain all you need to know and, as in my case, put you in touch with a local firearms specialist. (Plus it shows due diligence on your part should anyone complain about weapons being used in a public space.)

Last year I did a production of Eugine Onegin and used completely fake flintlocks. The SM then stood behind the set close to the Talent and fired a starting pistol on the right note. The retort was so loud I don't think the audience ever noticed the lack of smoke as they recovered from the shock. A licence is not required for a starting pistol.



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That's correct.


Some firearms don't require a licence (including starting pistols, air rifles\pistols under the FAC limits).


Some firearms require a firearms licence (including smallbore and fullbore rifles, air rifles\pistols over the FAC limits, certain shotguns).


Some firearms require a special authority from the Secretary of State to own (including cs sprays, handguns and automatics).


(Probably somewhat out of date, and I can't be bothered to read it...)



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I have just purchased two blank firing replica guns from www.stringtownsupplies.co.uk

They were very helpful in explaining the changes in the Law as of 1st October.

They are also the only place I could find with stock.

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If you are going to have or hold a gun or gun looking thing in a public place including a theatre then you should seek tha advice of your local police specialist firearms people. They are the ones who have to know the law as they would be arresting miscreants with guns.


The Hirer/owner of the weapon is interested because they don't want their gun confiscated for your mis-use of it.


If you cannot afford to take police advice, hire a correct (and correctly non-active) gun, and secure it in the care of a responsible team or armourer then you cannot afford to do the show.


With the gun control and VCR legislation to observe it is only going to be a specialist police officer who understands all the law. PLUS taking and observing advice from competent people does (as above) count towards "due dilligence" as expected by all including the courts and your insurers.

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Took a while for me to find the contact details again but if you are still unsure try talking to Mark Shelley at www.sasnorth.co.uk 01535 637838 he was very helpful to me. (Don't be put off by the sas bit, that stands for Shelley Armourer Services). He does a lot of work in theatre, film and television.
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