The Home Office has released two new leaflets setting out their position on antique firearms – and it’s clear they want antiques dealers to implement a register of transactions even though it’s not required by law.
Released yesterday, the two new leaflets – available on the firearms licensing page of the gov.uk website – and which do not have a date of revision on them, are presented as a “this is the law” summary.
However, the wording, which UK Shooting News strongly suspects originated from the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS), all but orders individuals and dealers to treat antique firearms in the same way as live firearms for record-keeping purposes.
“A person in possession of a firearm which he claims is an antique should also be able to demonstrate that it is possessed as a curiosity or an ornament,” says the guide for individual owners, before hastily going on to add, “although it would be for the prosecution to prove otherwise in any criminal proceedings.”
“If you sell antique firearms the law does not place a duty on you to find out whether a prospective buyer is subject to a section 21 prohibition,” states the guide for antiques dealers. However, it then goes on to say:
You might consider asking new buyers or existing buyers who are not well known to you to provide details of their address and to sign a declaration confirming that they are not prohibited by the terms of section 21 from taking possession of the antique firearm they intend to purchase. You may also wish to include in such a declaration a confirmation that the firearm is being purchased solely as a curiosity or ornament and that the purchaser will not be using it for any other purpose unless they achieve the appropriate certification.
This is a clear attempt by the Home Office to introduce licensing of antique firearms through the back door by “suggesting” to dealers that the only way to protect themselves from malicious prosecution is to implement a register system similar to that used for live firearms. There is no legal requirement for any transaction relating to antique firearms to be recorded in any register.
Earlier this year Kent antique gun dealer Ray Mills committed suicide after a Met Police entrapment operation, which relied on undercover police employees trailing him for six months before arresting him in January this year.
Antique firearms are exempt from the controls on live firearms. Typically they are of obsolete calibre (ammunition no longer commercially available) or are very old. The exemption applies to firearms kept as “curiosities or ornaments” and was intended to apply to muskets kept hanging over fireplaces and the like.
NABIS has launched a media and lobbying crusade to outlaw antique firearms, repeatedly claiming they are being used by criminals. The secretive body has refused to disclose how many illegal live firearms it thinks are in circulation, even instructing MPs to ignore Parliamentary questions on the topic, raising the possibility that NABIS is trying to justify its budget by targeting antiques as its original raison d’etre shrinks into irrelevance.