The Law Commission’s firearms law review questions in full

UK Shooting News has extracted the questions from the Law Commission’s scoping paper into its upcoming review of firearms laws and presents them here for general discussion and comment.

The questions follow below. The wording is identical to chapter 9 of the scoping paper, though UKSN has tweaked the formatting lightly for web publication. It’s rather irritating that the proposals and questions are intermixed but that is how the Law Commission chose to structure them.

UKSN intends to do a crowdsourcing project and gather British shooters’ ideas for responses, though ultimately my own full response will be submitted under my name and reflect my own thoughts and wishes.

What are the hidden dangers? (this section will be updated as you spot them)

So far UKSN commenter Steven Wolf has spotted that the proposal to broaden the definition of “component parts”, cunningly disguised as narrowing it, could lead to magazines becoming licensable parts needing to be held on ticket.

What else have you spotted? Let us know in the comments below.


Provisional proposal 1

9.1 The meaning of lethal should be set by reference to a fixed muzzle kinetic energy.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation question 1

9.2 What should the lethality threshold be?

c) 2.5 joules for single shot and 1.3 joules for fully automatic weapons; or
d) 1 joule.

Consultation question 2

9.3 If the threshold of lethality was set at 1 joule would it have a disproportionate impact upon the legitimate trade in air weapons?

Consultation question 3

9.4 If the threshold of lethality was set at 1 joule should there be a specific exemption for the airsoft trade, similar to that already contained within the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006?

Provisional proposal 2

9.5 To maximise clarity and certainty, the FCC’s modified list of component parts should be enshrined in law, namely:

  1. the barrel, chamber, cylinder;
  2. the frame, body or receivers upper and lower where present in the complete firearm;
  3. the breech, block, bolt or other mechanism for containing the charge at the rear of the chamber; and

Provisional proposal 3

9.6 We provisionally propose the Secretary of State is given the power to amend the list by way of order.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 4

9.7 We provisionally propose that as a matter of law a component part will remain such so long as it is capable of fulfilling its intended function as part of a firearm.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation question 4

9.8 Do consultees have a view on whether the component parts of a shotgun should be subject to control? If so in what terms?

Provisional proposal 5

9.9 The failure to define antique firearm is a significant omission which causes problems in practice and therefore it is necessary to provide a set of statutory criteria for determining which firearms can benefit from the exemption in section 58(2).

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 6

9.10 The deciding factor for determining which firearms can benefit from the exemption in section 58(2) ought to be functionality.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation question 5

9.11 We would welcome consultees’ views on the following options for a criterion to determine which firearms benefit from a new obsolescence exemption:

  1. obsolete cartridge list;
  2. modern cartridge list (Canadian);
  3. year of manufacture conclusive of functionality; or
  4. antique firearm mechanism.

Provisional proposal 7

9.12 Any purchase of an antique firearm must be paid for by cheque or electronic funds transfer.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 8

9.13 Any sale of an antique firearm must be recorded.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 9

9.14 The offences in sections 16 – 25 [of the Firearms Act 1968 as amended] ought to be amended to put beyond doubt that
they can be committed by someone in possession of an antique firearm.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 10

9.15 The statute or regulation should state expressly that only firearms that have been certified by one of the Proof Houses as being deactivated to a Home Office approved standard ought to be categorised as ‘deactivated firearms’ and therefore capable of being possessed without any form of control. A mechanism would need to be inserted to enable the Proof Houses to certify that a firearm that has not been deactivated to a Home Office approved standard is nevertheless irreversibly incapable of discharging a projectile, because of corrosion, for example.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation question 6

9.16 Based upon the assumption that the preceding question is answered in the affirmative, do consultees have a view on which of these three methods would be more appropriate?

  1. Amending the definition of ‘deactivated firearm’ in section 38(7) of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006;
  2. Using the Secretary of State’s regulation making power in section 39 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006; or
  3. Amending section 8 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988.

Provisional proposal 11

Where a person attempts to reactivate a firearm that was deactivated to a Home Office approved standard, we provisionally propose that as a matter of law that weapon should no longer be presumed to be deactivated and take advantage of the presumption.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 12

9.18 We provisionally propose the amendment of section 4(3) to put beyond doubt that the offence can also be committed by someone who makes amendments to a deactivated firearm with the intention of rendering it capable of discharging a missile.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 13

9.19 We provisionally propose the law be amended to focus on the availability of the tools necessary to convert an imitation firearm into a live firearm.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 14

9.20 We provisionally propose the creation of an offence of being in possession of articles with the intention of using them unlawfully to convert imitation firearms into live firearms.

Do consultees agree?

Provisional proposal 15

9.21 We provisionally propose that the current law governing firearms in England and Wales is of such complexity that it is necessary for the Law Commission to undertake a wider reform project to codify the law. Do consultees agree?

Consultation question 7

9.22 Do consultees have any examples of the additional and unnecessary costs or any dangers to the public that are attributable to the defects with the current law governing the acquisition and possession of firearms?

Consultation question 8

9.23 We consider that the issues raised in this chapter are further examples of failings in the present law that generate practical problems and which would be suitable for resolution in a codification exercise.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation question 9

9.24 Do consultees have suggestions of other areas of the law suitable for reform?

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10 thoughts on “The Law Commission’s firearms law review questions in full

  1. John

    Good work. The BSSC, which also represent many of the UK Shooting organisations, has been involved in early discussions and the NRA are preparing their own response. Lets hope whatever come out of it provides greater clarity than what we have now. I doubt they will be introducing licensing for magazines as there are so many out there already but I for one would not be bothered if they introduced a requirement to present a FAC to a retailer in order to buy a magazine, same as they did for primers.

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  2. Steven Wolf

    Thank you for highlighting my concerns at the top of the article. To answer John’s statement:
    “…if they introduced a requirement to present a FAC to a retailer in order to buy a magazine, same as they did for primers.”
    They are not proposing to introduce licensing for magazines but they want to classify any critical component that a gun needs to operate as a controllable part. A lot of modern semi auto rimfires have safety features where the gun won’t fire without the magazine being inserted therefore will ensure that at least some magazines will become controlled components. However such language can even make something like a shotgun magazine plug a controlled component, since a shotgun won’t work if the spring doesn’t have a plug to push against to keep the rounds nice and tight.

    I have made my own submission, about 11 pages and also copied from Libertarian Party UK their idea at a revamp of the Firearms Certification system.
    http://libertarianpartyuk.com/manifesto-2015-2/
    Scroll down to Appendix A Firearms Ownership

    My comments have been that section 1 shotguns, lbrs and lbps should be on a club ticket since a probationary member not being able to get experience on a gun until they get one on their certificate is harmful to public safety since they are not allowed to use one because the criteria is so strict.

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  3. John

    I don’t think it unreasonable to have to prove good reason to purchase primers by presenting a FAC. I also would not think it unreasonable to have to present a FAC to a retailer in order to buy any currently uncontrolled gun parts should that be introduced, it would go someway to prevent the malcontent and malicious getting hold of items that could be used in criminal activity. This is not to suggest that any of these items need to be entered on a FAC and as such there would be no administrative or cost burden on the Police.

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  4. Steven Wolf

    You don’t understand how legislation works. First they need you to show an FAC to buy any gun part even a washer and then they make you get a variation. WE should be campaigning for less restrictions not more. Views like yours are one of the main reasons shooting sports is in such a way in this country if the shooting community will bend over backwards for more restrictions which have no public safety benefit. What is a criminal going to do with a gun magazine? If they can manufacture, convert an existing firearm They probably have the skill in getting a spring and a bit of plastic together.

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    1. John

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to require a FAC to be shown in order to purchase gun parts. What’s unreasonable about it? I have a FAC so it’s not a problem for me, who is suggesting that a variation is required?

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      1. Gaz Corfield Post author

        What’s unreasonable about it is that right now, no FAC is needed for non-pressure-bearing firearm-specific parts (e.g. stocks, bolt handles, sights, trigger mechs etc). I can easily imagine how deliberately loose legal drafting ends up killing the internet trade in such items and making it almost impossible to buy small parts unless they’re routed via an RFD for the face-to-face certificate check, in much the same way complete firearms are today.

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  5. Steven Wolf

    “What’s unreasonable about it is that right now, no FAC is needed for non-pressure-bearing firearm-specific parts (e.g. stocks, bolt handles, sights, trigger mechs etc). I can easily imagine how deliberately loose legal drafting ends up killing the internet trade in such items and making it almost impossible to buy small parts unless they’re routed via an RFD for the face-to-face certificate check, in much the same way complete firearms are today.”

    BINGO!
    You think there is a wide choice of triggers, stocks right now online to buy and customise your gun? Then wait until it will be mandatory to show FAC for every gun part and then you’d be lucky to get a crappy replacement stock in your local gun shop, that is unless you have to go on a waiting list due to demand and bureaucracy.
    It will also kill Firearm diy-ing and they will probably ban people from doing repairs on their own gun, so you’ll have to go to an RFD to get it officially repaired. Now if it’s not a pressure bearing part, you can get anyone to repair that gun part even your mate down the road with the engineering degree, as long as you only give him the part of course and not the whole gun.

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  6. John

    Well I disagree, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. There is a tendency to read to much into any consultation or proposal and far to many paranoid individuals unable to make a reasoned argument without getting emotional. Best to wait and see, or even better submit a suggestion and add to the debate.

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