Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997

The Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 was the second of two Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1997 that amended the regulation of firearms within Great Britain. It was introduced by the newly elected Labour government of Tony Blair. The first Act was the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997.

Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997
Long titleAn Act to extend the class of prohibited weapons under the Firearms Act 1968 to include small-calibre pistols.
Citation1997 c. 64
Introduced byJack Straw[1]
Territorial extent England and Wales; Scotland
Royal assent27 November 1997
Commencement17 December 1997,
1 February 1998[2]
Other legislation
Relates toFirearms Act 1968, Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997
Status: Current legislation
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from


The act was created in response to the Snowdrop Petition following the Dunblane Massacre. The previous Conservative government had exceeded the recommendations of the Cullen Report and introduced the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 that banned "high calibre" handguns, greater than .22 calibre (5.6 mm). This new (No. 2) Act further prohibited the private possession of all cartridge handguns, regardless of calibre.

The only handguns still allowed following the ban were:

  • Antique and muzzle-loading black-powder guns
  • Firearms of historic interest whose ammunition is no longer available ("Section 7.1" firearms)
  • Firearms of historic interest with current calibres ("Section 7.3" firearms)[note 1]
  • Air pistols[note 2]
  • Firearms which fall outside the Home Office definition of "small firearms".[note 3]
  • Pistols used by hunters for humane dispatch

The Act does not extend to Northern Ireland, where firearms regulations differ due to the Troubles. Northern Ireland law allows pistols for use as personal protection weapons, mainly by retired police or prison officers, but also prominent figures who were considered at risk. It also does not extend to Crown Dependencies such as the Channel Islands of Isle of Man, where handguns are still used in target sports.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Guns of historic interest, are ones that were typically manufactured before the year 1919. Since so-called "Section 7.3" historic weapons use currently available ammunition, they must be kept at a secure designated site such as the Bisley Camp, in Surrey.
  2. ^ Air pistols are legally required not to exceed a muzzle energy of 6 ft·lbf (8.1 J).
  3. ^ Due to the difficulty of defining a handgun in a legally meaningful way, the first act defined "small firearms" based on a combination of overall and barrel length. Certain specialist pistols - such as those used in the Olympic 50 metre pistol event - exceeded these dimensions, as do later "long-barrelled handguns" of both small- and full-bore calibres. These pistols whose barrel length or overall firearm length exceeds that of a handgun are treated as normal Section 1 firearms for licensing purposes.


  1. ^ "Hansard, Vol 294 Col 851". 22 May 1997. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  2. ^ "The Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 (Commencement) Order 1997 (No. 3114 (c.116))". 17 December 1997. Retrieved 28 May 2008.

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