Both of Britain’s largest shooting and countryside organisations have welcomed the Law Commission report which recommended the creation of new shooting-specific criminal offences.
The report, published yesterday, makes several detailed recommendations for new firearms laws. The most controversial of those is for a new offence of “possessing tools with the intention of converting an imitation firearm into a live firearm” to be created.
A statement from CA CEO Tim Bonner said: “The Countryside Alliance contributed to this review and the vast majority of our recommendations were adopted in the report. It addresses the need for definitions of ‘lethality’, ‘component part’ and what constitutes an ‘antique firearm’.”
“It also proposes amendments to address weaknesses in the existing law in relation to deactivation of firearms and offences connected to attempts at reactivation,” continued Bonner, “whether of a firearm previously deactivated, or conversion of an imitation firearm. The proposals take account of recent changes in European law as well as technical developments since the current legislation was passed.”
A statement from BASC said: “Among their findings, the Commission says there should be single, simple test to determine whether a weapon is lethal, based upon kinetic energy of the projectile without changing existing licensing laws. It also calls for the creation of a statutory list of “component parts” – with the Secretary of State given the power to update the list – and new guidelines on antique firearms.”
“In addition,” continued BASC, “it says there should be changes to take account of technological developments while suggesting Home Office approved standards for deactivating firearms should be mandatory to reduce the risk of weapons being “reactivated”. The Commission also proposes a new offence of being in possession of an item with intent to convert a replica into a working firearm.”
The NRA has not commented on the Law Commission report.
UK Shooting News’ author believes the report is a curate’s egg – good in parts. Of real concern are the proposals to allow the Home Secretary to amend the proposed list of component parts by decree (albeit subject to a Parliamentary rubber-stamp vote) and the proposal to make it illegal to possess common household tools. The Home Secretary may also gain the power to ban any antique firearm by decree in a similar way.
On the bright side, UKSN’s author’s proposal that owners of antique firearms which are banned in future should be automatically granted an FAC in order to possess and transfer that firearm was adopted by the Law Commission. It is not yet law, and possibly may never become law, but seeing that in print made the effort of writing in to them worthwhile.