The law has changed for owners of certain firearms previously regarded as antique - they will now need a licence.

The changes are aimed at protecting the public by making it harder for criminals to get their hands on these types of weapons.

Earlier this year, the government changed the law to introduce for the first time a legal definition of antique firearms.

From September 22 owners are required to have a licence to own any firearm not meeting the criteria.

Due to their use in crime, seven cartridges which previously appeared in the Home Office’s guidance were not included in the new legal definition.

This means that all firearms chambered for use with these cartridges now need a licence.

Minister for Policing and Crime, Kit Malthouse, said: "Criminals have been exploiting a grey area in the law to get their hands on these firearms, so this change will make our streets safer and ensure these potentially deadly weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.

"There are of course legitimate reasons for owning a firearm that is an antique or was previously regarded as an antique, and their owners are not involved in any wrongdoing. They may be owned by a collector or as a family heirloom, for example.

"I would urge anyone who owns one of these weapons to check what is required and either licence them or legally dispose of them to ensure they do not fall foul of the law."

The seven cartridges which previously appeared in the Home Office guidance but which have been omitted from the equivalent list in the 2021 Regulations and which now need a licence to be legally held are:

  • .320 British (also known as .320 Revolver CF, short or long)
  • .41 Colt (short or long)
  • .44 Smith and Wesson Russian
  • .442 Revolver (also known as .44 Webley)
  • 9.4mm Dutch Revolver
  • 10.6mm German Ordnance Revolver
  • 11mm French Ordnance Revolver M1873 (Army)

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for firearms licensing, Deputy Chief Constable Dave Orford, said: "These measures will help officers to seize more dangerous weapons and deal with those intent on using them to cause harm and suffering.

"I urge anyone who owns a firearm that they have previously believed to be antique and exempt from licensing to check whether it now needs to be licensed, and if so, to contact their local police force to facilitate this."

Anyone wishing to dispose of a firearm can hand it in to their nearest police station.

If people suspect others of keeping an illegal firearm, they can report it via 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers.