A Scottish police employee has criticised the British government’s strict firearms laws, claiming that deactivated firearms are “easy” to reactivate despite Britain having the most restrictive deactivation standards in the EU.
In a carefully stage-managed piece of police PR, Detective Chief Superintendent John Cuddihy told the Daily Record: “It is easy to reactivate a deactivated weapon and bang – you’re dead.”
The police force also claimed to the newspaper that there were 90,000 deactivated firearms in Scotland, somehow making a link between criminality and the possession of an inert lump of metal and wood.
Cuddihy said the process of locating where deactivated weapons are in Scotland and their availablity to criminals is vital.
It is perfectly lawful to possess a deactivated firearm, although the National Police Chiefs’ Council, a lobbying organisation which chooses how laws made by Parliament will be interpreted in practice, has recently begun lobbying the government to tighten the already stringent controls on deactivated firearms.
Specifications for deactivated firearms are set by the Home Office. Part of the 2010 specification (PDF) for the AK-47 assault rifle states: “Either, remove bolt-carrier, bolt and gas piston and destroy with a cutting torch, submitting remains to the Proof House for retention at the same time as the deactivated firearm is submitted, replacing with formed thin sheet of metal welded in place and using bolt-carrier handle as necessary to simulate presence of bolt-carrier OR by using a maximum of 50% of the bolt/bolt carrier, securely weld into place using substantial or continuous runs of weld in order to maintain external appearances.”
The Proof House is the government-appointed private company responsible for, amongst other things, certifying that a deactivated firearm has met the Home Office standard.
Police Scotland also claimed to the Daily Record that ammunition is easily available, ignoring the strict controls on ammunition already in place in the UK. Strangely, DCI Cuddihy told the paper: “You can buy a bullet for less than £1. If you then take that bullet and put it on the black market, it will trade as a commodity for £10.”
Cuddihy appears to believe that there are no controls on ammunition, and this is clearly the impression he wants to give to the public reading the newspaper. It is baffling why a senior police employee doesn’t understand the laws he is paid to enforce, particularly as the very first section of the Firearms Act 1968 sets out in black and white that a police-issued certificate is necessary to lawfully buy or possess ammunition.
The Scottish tabloid also quoted a number of unnamed sources suggesting that deactivated firearms and replicas can easily be reactivated, which is normally journalistic code for “we want to say something ourselves but can’t find anyone who agrees with us, so we’re going to make up quotes from people who don’t exist to pretend that others think the same as we do.”
Police lobbyists have been working hard behind the scenes to convince government figures that new restrictions are needed. A police submission to the Law Commission revealed a secret gun ban shopping list, showing how police employees want fresh bans in place to disguise their own inability to enforce and uphold current licensing laws.
It’s no surprise to see a senior police employee setting out once again to wilfully mislead the public. Guns are an emotive topic and talking about putting new restrictions upon them are a quick’n’easy win for police forces and politicians who are losing control of a media narrative – or the real situation on the street.
What is concerning is that there are no voices pointing out the obvious falsehoods being told by this man and others. The Home Office deactivation standards linked to are amongst the strictest in the world; as you can read in the linked document above, meeting the standard involves irrevocably destroying the working parts of firearms. There is no reactivating a British deactivated firearm, and yet this man is using his privileged position to spout utter nonsense.
Firearms policy and law is reserved for Parliament, although the Scottish assembly is permitted under the terms of devolution to ban airguns, as it did earlier this year. The ban has yet to come into force. Meanwhile, Police Scotland has deliberately cut the number of firearms enquiry officers, who administer the firearms and airgun licensing systems.
Of course, this policeman will not be disciplined, nor will anyone pointing out his nonsense get a fair hearing in a country ruled by a Nationalist Socialist party. Scotland is a lost cause as far as the private enjoyment and use of firearms – or even airguns – is concerned.
But that doesn’t mean the rest of the UK needs to follow them that stupid and illiberal path.