While I was in London, last Saturday, I was doing the touristy thing by going to see the changing of the guard. A tourguide had recommended that I go to St. James Palace to see the guards up close. As I was walking to St. James Palace I stumbled across the Beretta Gallery. As an American in London, I had preconceived notions of firearms and their relation to the UK. What I discovered inside this store blew my mind.
Being in London, I did not expect to find a gun store. When I saw the Beretta Gallery, I thought it was a clothing and accessories store for Beretta branded items. I went in to check it out anyway.
As expected, it is a store for Beretta branded items.
Picture frames and other trinkets.
This shotgun shell display is £250. So that is about $325!!!
To my surprise, the top third floor is their gun shop and gallery. The gallery is locked behind a reinforced glass door and you need to be buzzed to get in. Once inside there are Silver Pigeons everywhere.
They also carry many of their other brands such as Steiner optics and Burris Optics. They also had Franchi shotguns, Stoeger shotguns and a couple Benelli shotguns.
London and most of the UK is the land of NO. You cannot carry a knife that has a fixed blade or even a folder that locks. You can technically own them but carrying them is illegal. Firearm ownership is just as strict and even more difficult. There are so many hoops to go thru, there are similarities to firearm ownership in NYC.
You can obtain a firearm but you need to express a “need” to have it. Such as being a member of a shooting club or pest control. You have to get a Firearm Certificate. You need to ask for permission basically from the local police department and you need to provide references. There are certificates for shotgun and rifle. Muzzle loaders are considered a long gun and are classified alongside rifles. Muzzle loading pistols are the only pistols a citizen can own in the UK. You need to keep the firearm in a secured location like a steel cabinet that is attached to a wall. Oh and the police can revoke your certificate at anytime they feel you no longer have a good reason to own a firearm or ammunition.
Ok after ALL that, what did I not expect to see in a gun store in London? A suppressor.
In this display case, they have their line of bolt action rifles and this Tikka caught my attention. It clearly has a suppressor on it.
It is an ASE UTRA suppressor made in Finland.
I talked to the store employee about suppressor ownership, he informed me that “moderators” are legal in the UK. He then explained that when someone applies for their Firearm Certificate, to own a rifle, they can ask to own a suppressor at the same time. No extra steps required. No tax stamp, no additional background checks, no government regulations. Wow, of all the things you cannot do or have in the UK, you can have suppressors for your rifle.
According to this employee, firearm ownership only comes down to two types, sporting or hunting. I noticed that most of the shotguns in the gallery were some form of double or single barrel gun for clay shooting like an over under or side by side shotgun. I did not see any pump action and only one small cabinet of semi auto guns. He said most people, who get a semi auto, use it for pest control. Very few people have them for sporting purposes. He then told me about a special competition geared solely for semi auto shotguns. Most clay shooting games are either one or two clays in the air at a given time. In this competition there can be three clays in the air simultaneously and the semi auto shotguns are loaded up to three.
According to the store employee, the Beretta Gallery is the largest showroom in the UK.