The Metropolitan Police have launched a two week gun surrender, urging members of the public to hand in lawfully owned ” imitation weapons, BB guns and air weapons”.
There are no restrictions on owning imitation firearms or BB guns, though you must be 18 to buy them. Airguns are subject to some of the controls on firearms, mainly on having a clean criminal record.
Coming on the heels of the EU gun ban proposals, the recent attack on Paris and the seemingly thwarted attack on Brussels, demanding that innocent people hand over lawfully owned toys is a pathetic response.
The Met insists that people handing over firearms (or, indeed, children’s plastic toys, which if coloured black or grey now fall under the classification ‘realistic imitation firearm’) “may not face prosecution for illegal possession and can remain anonymous”, though immediately continues its statement by saying “some weapons [will be] forensically checked for evidence”.
Actual firearms can also be handed in to local police stations during the surrender.
The term ‘surrender’ is used in order to allow police to mount prosecutions against people who hand in firearms or toys. Previously such initiatives were labelled ‘amnesties’, which UK Shooting News understands implied immunity from prosecution.
Detective Superintendent Stephen Clayman of the Trident and Area Crime Command said, in a canned press release: “We are asking Londoners to hand in firearms and imitation weapons to avoid them falling into the wrong hands. In an inappropriate setting, imitation weapons will cause fear and panic, and could lead to a police response involving the deployment of armed police officers, with potentially tragic results.”
UKSN’s standard advice if you have an unwanted firearm or come into possession of one, for example through an elderly relative’s death, is to contact your local gun shop immediately. Registered Firearms Dealers will in most cases be quite happy to help you safely and lawfully dispose of firearms without exposing you to the risk of overzealous police employees trying to make you into their next arrest and conviction statistic.
In 2009 Surrey Police arrested a man who found a shotgun in his garden and took it to his local police station for unlawful possession of a firearm. He was later convicted of the offence, which carries up to 5 years in prison – but escaped with a suspended sentence. Unlawful possession is a strict liability offence, meaning your intentions count for nothing in court.