A memory fragment from my mother, early 1940s:
Hate to remember it now but on holidays in Wiltshire (aged around 9 to 11) I used to go out with my aunt Rhoda's husband Ted and shoot rabbits. Meat rations were stingy and my grandmother (she and Rhoda were staying in Wiltshire for the war) welcomed succulent rabbit to stew and feed us all.
She adds later:
... it's a good job my rabbit-shooting days were so long ago because, never mind it being illegal now, it was illegal then. We were trespassing on someone's land for starters and at my age I should never have been allowed to handle a gun, let alone use it. I don't know whether one needed a licence for a gun then but I'd bet my bottom dollar that Ted didn't have one.
I understand from Wikipedia that a gun licence has been required in the UK since 1870; originally anyone could have a licence who paid for one, but from 1920 it became necessary to get approval from the police.