It had to happen; he was 97. Your spouse is arranging the funeral and probate, and there you are, having to sort out your father-in-law’s attic.
Solar topee, yes;
Oar blade, Balliol 1929 torpid, yes;
Mess Wellingtons, boxed for spurs, yes;
. . . and neatly wrapped in brown greaseproof paper, a Walther P38 semi-automatic pistol.
Crikey. Section 5 firearm; illegally held. What to do?
We asked our local rozzers. Initially, their view was that if we took the pistol directly to our local police station, it was unlikely that we would be prosecuted; but if we had an accident on the way, and the gun was stolen . . . Not ideal, then.
If we took the pistol home for safekeeping, and then informed the police – they would be very unhappy – even if we placed the illegal item in our own firearms safe. We could leave the firearm in its attic, and summon an approved dealer with appropriate authorisation – but it is well established that houses unoccupied following a recent death are at considerably increased risk of burglary.
On balance, the police recommendation was to summon one of their own to take the Walther into protective custody. They thought that normally they could have somebody on the doorstep within a couple of hours (so you could be continuing the clear-out whilst waiting). The firearms dealer could then collect from the police (but would be advised not to delay lest a valuable collectors piece be destroyed) and the estate would then benefit from the resulting sale.
So if you find yourself clutching a Walther and rapidly adopting the demeanour of an Oberstleutnant, it’s probably best to put it back where it was hidden; telephone your local police station; then consult Where To Sell for directions to your nearest authorised Section 5 dealer.