UK Shooting News is making the Law Commission’s full report available, along with the commission’s summary of recommendations for future firearms laws.
From the full report [53038 HC 668 v0 1, direct link to a 69 page/2.7MB PDF file], the Law Commission’s recommendations are:
- We recommend that section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968 be amended to define “lethal” by reference to a specified muzzle kinetic energy. [paragraph 2.16]
- We recommend that for the purposes of section 57(1) a weapon should be considered lethal if it is capable of discharging a projectile with a kinetic energy of more than 1 joule as measured at the muzzle of the weapon for the purposes of section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968. [paragraph 2.29]
- We recommend the creation of an exempting provision in the Act exempting airsoft guns from the scope of the 1 joule kinetic energy threshold which deems a barrelled weapon to be lethal. [paragraph 2.43]
- We recommend that if a deemed lethality threshold of 1 joule kinetic muzzle energy be created, a statutory exemption for airsoft guns should also be created. The exemption should be defined:
(1) by reference to safe kinetic energy thresholds for airsoft guns to operate within;
(2) so as to exempt those guns that are only capable of firing small plastic pellets; and
(3) having regard to the “permitted activities” listed in The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (Realistic Imitation Firearms) Regulations 2007. [paragraph 2.49]
- We recommend that the term “component part” in the Firearms Act 1968 be defined as:
(1) The barrel, chamber, cylinder.
(2) Frame, body or receivers;
(3) Breech block, bolt or other mechanism for containing the charge at the rear of the chamber.
- We recommend that the Secretary of State be given the power to amend the statutory list of component parts by way of statutory instrument, subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
- We recommend that legislation be enacted to clarify that a component part shall remain classified as such so long as it is capable of fulfilling its function as part of a lethal barrelled weapon. [paragraph 3.44]
- We recommend that it be a defence for an individual to show that he or she did not know and had no reason to suspect that the parts remained functional. [paragraph 3.45]
- We recommend that the term “antique firearm” be defined in legislation. [paragraph 4.13]
- We recommend that the term “antique firearm” should be defined in legislation by reference to functionality, understood as a firearm that does not pose a realistic danger to the public either because of the type of ammunition it fires or because of its ignition system. [paragraph 4.17]
- We recommend that an “antique firearm” be defined as:
(1) a firearm that employs an ignition system included on a statutory list of obsolete ignition systems and is possessed as a curiosity or ornament or;
(2) a firearm that is chambered for a cartridge type included in a statutory list of cartridge types that are no longer readily available and is possessed as a curiosity or ornament. [paragraph 4.40]
- We recommend that sections 19 and 20 of the Firearms Act 1968 be extended so that it is clear that they apply to antique firearms. [paragraph 4.54]
- We recommend that for a firearm to be considered deactivated as matter of law, it must either be certified as having undergone a Home Office approved deactivation process or the deactivation process annexed to the Deactivated Firearms Regulation. [paragraph 5.32]
- We recommend that if a deactivated firearm is to be placed on the market, including transmission for free, exchange or barter, or transferred to another Member State it must be deactivated in a way that complies with the deactivation standards annexed to the Deactivated Firearms Regulation. [paragraph 5.33]
- We recommend that section 8 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 be amended to give effect to our previous recommendation. [paragraph 5.38]
- We recommend there should be a rebuttable presumption that a weapon not deactivated to a Home Office or European Commission approved standard remains a firearm unless the person in possession of it can show it has been rendered permanently incapable of discharging a projectile. [paragraph 5.46]
- We recommend that any modification made to a deactivated firearm with the intention of making it capable of discharging a projectile will mean that as a matter of law that weapon cannot be classified as a deactivated firearm. [paragraph 5.57]
- We recommend section 4(3) be amended to clarify that the offence can be committed even if the weapon was originally capable of discharging a projectile through its barrel. [paragraph 5.56]
- We recommend that the test for convertibility in section 1(6) of the Firearms Act 1982 be amended to focus upon the ready availability of the requisite tools rather than on whether they are commonly used when carrying out maintenance on the home. [paragraph 6.23]
- We recommend the creation of an offence of being in possession of an article with the intention of using it unlawfully to convert an imitation firearm into a live firearm. [paragraph 6.34]
- We recommend that the law on firearms be codified. We believe a suitable opportunity to carry out codification would be immediately following the passing of any legislation which includes our specific proposals. [paragraph 7.19]
- We recommend that consideration be given to the formation of a consultative committee of experts to advise the Home Office on firearms law. [paragraph 7.20]
Full analysis of the detailed recommendations will be published on UKSN by tomorrow. The devil is in the detail, but thankfully he is not present in everything.
UKSN’s author is also quoted by name in the full report, and my recommendation on automatic issue of an FAC for owners of antique firearms which are outlawed has been adopted by the Law Commission in full – complete with my recommendation that such antiques should then be tradeable as any other s1 firearm is, rather than the situation with Brococks where they can never be transferred except to the police for destruction. Which I’m rather chuffed about.
I’d also like to put it on record that I will happily buy a pint for the people who wrote the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association’s response to the Law Commission. If you read the full report, you’ll understand why.