Norfolk RFD found guilty of illegal gun sales

5 Jan 2016 – A well-known registered firearms dealer was found guilty in December of possessing and selling prohibited weapons, as well as nine counts of fraud.

Anthony Buckland, 65, of Mill Road, Stoke Holy Cross, near Norwich, stood accused of 20 offences: 10 counts of selling a prohibited weapon, one of possession of a prohibited weapon (disguised firearm); and nine counts of fraud by false representation.

A jury at Norwich Crown Court found him guilty of all counts on Friday 18th December. He was released on bail and will be sentenced on 21st January.

In 2014 police were called to a house in Potash Road, Wyverstone, after reports of an assault. After arresting local parish council chairman James Arnold, who lived there, they searched his home – and discovered 400 weapons. He held an FAC but many of the firearms were not licensed.

Arnold died from cancer before he could be brought to trial.

Further police enquiries linked the firearms found in Arnold’s home to Buckland, who was subsequently raided. Examination of his RFD registers showed 26 firearms that were sold to one “JJ Hambrose”, who police later realised did not exist. 16 of those firearms were found in Arnold’s home.

Police photographs obtained by the Eastern Daily Press show some of the firearms found, which appear to include at least two .22″ target rifles.

Buckland had traded as a gunsmith and RFD under the name AR Buckland since the 1980s. Among his notable products were straight pull L1A1 rifles, converted from the original semi-automatic British military issue firearms and chambered in 7.62mm NATO.

UKSN comment

An odd paragraph in the police press release read:

The nine counts of fraud relate to the fact that Buckland sold firearms banned from private ownership (such as automatic or semi-automatic weapons), to buyers who were led to believe they were single shot firearms allowed to be legally owned by people with the appropriate licence.

This suggests that some of Buckland’s straight-pull rifles may have been deemed to be illegal after his arrest and confiscated by police from owners who bought them in good faith.

UK Shooting News may seek out further details on this point if there is a public appetite to do so.

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4 thoughts on “Norfolk RFD found guilty of illegal gun sales

  1. Steven Wolf

    Yes it does seem that some of those L1A1 conversions weren’t done to spec allowing people to probably fire them in semi-auto mode. This is why whenever a new firing mechanism comes out onto the market like lever release/MARS action, police assume the worst and try to say that they might ban these guns at a future date.

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    1. Nick Bortz

      Wrong, this has nothing to do with Mr Bucklands L1A1s. The case, or this part of it, was to do with 9 counts of converting section 5 Tokarev SVT and SKS rifles to single shot. Mr Buckland was found guilty by a jury with no knowledge of firearms under a section of the law which the police and justice community have severe difficulty in interpreting. So much so that the FELWG committee was consulted on its interpretation. The prosecution maintained that Mr Buckland was converting these guns illegally, despite him keeping both his firearms department and the home office abreast of what he was doing for a year!. Mr Buckland, a trained armourer, showed the court his method of conversion and showed the technical lengths he went to prevent their firing in semi-auto mode. This included new barrels, removal of all gas parts. Substitution of vented sections, and replacement of gas tubing with dummy sections. These rifles could not fire in semi-auto mode. Incidentally similar technical adjustments where made on the L1A1s. This entire case has been miss reported, probably understandably as the non-shooting public, and most of the shooting fraternity, do not understand the intricacy of the case the police presented. The police brought the fraud charge to back up their case. They convinced the jury that the people who brought the converted rifles had been duped into believing these were section 1 rifles. The police maintained they remained section 5 even thought policy notices from FELWG stated the opposite. None of the buyers stated they thought they had been duped except one who reacted negatively when initially confronted by the police in the process of confiscating his purchase. He later clarified his response. The disguised firearm related to a 100 year old walking stick shot gun which a member of the public handed in, and which was awaiting a decision by the local firearms department. The prosecution maintained Mr Buckland was hiding it, in a locked gun cabinet, in a gun shop!!! And stated, and convinced the jury, that there was ammunition still commercially available. This would be 2 inch, 410 black powder cartridges!! The prosecutions ‘expert witness’ produced a modern nitro cartridge. The link with J Arnold is more problematic, if that is appropriate. Mr Buckland could not prove Hambrose existed and so the police prosecuted him for a revolver they found in Arnolds stash. The 26 items include 10 air-rifles, in transactions going back into the 1980s. I believe JJ Hambrose is a false name and that a he does exist. Why would Mr Buckland keep this ‘falsehood’ in his firearms register in the certain knowledge that sooner or later it would be discovered on inspection! The shooting fraternity need to search their conscience and find this guy. The police did not ask Mr Buckland for anything more than a verbal description of Hambrose and did limited investigating of his existence. They linked Mr Buckland unfairly to J Arnolds illegal stash and the press made out that Mr Buckland was largely responsible. This case is full of holes and dam right it needs looking into!

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  2. DNA Cowboy

    Yes, I have a taste for further investigation into the statement which included the words ‘The nine counts of fraud relate to the fact that Buckland sold firearms banned from private ownership (such as automatic or semi-automatic weapons), to buyers who were led to believe they were single shot firearms allowed to be legally owned by people with the appropriate licence’.

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  3. Nick Bortz

    Wrong, this has nothing to do with Mr Buckland’s L1A1s. The case, or this part of it, was to do with 9 counts of converting section 5 Tokarev SVT and SKS rifles to single shot. Mr Buckland was found guilty by a jury with no knowledge of firearms under a section of the law which the police and justice community have severe difficulty in interpreting. So much so that the FELWG committee was consulted on its interpretation. The prosecution maintained that Mr Buckland was converting these guns illegally, despite him keeping both his firearms department and the home office abreast of what he was doing for a year! Mr Buckland, a trained armourer, showed the court his method of conversion and showed the technical lengths he went to prevent their firing in semi-auto mode. This included new barrels, removal of all gas parts. Substitution of vented sections, and replacement of gas tubing with dummy sections. These rifles could not fire in semi-auto mode. Incidentally similar technical adjustments were made on the L1A1s. This entire case has been mis-reported, probably understandably as the non-shooting public, and most of the shooting fraternity, do not understand the intricacy of the case the police presented. The police brought the fraud charge to back up their case. They convinced the jury that the people who brought the converted rifles had been duped into believing these were section 1 rifles. The police maintained they remained section 5 even thought policy notices from FELWG stated the opposite. None of the buyers stated they thought they had been duped except one who reacted negatively when initially confronted by the police in the process of confiscating his purchase. He later clarified his response. The disguised firearm related to a 100 year old walking stick shot gun which a member of the public handed in, and which was awaiting a decision by the local firearms department. The prosecution maintained Mr Buckland was hiding it, in a locked gun cabinet, in a gun shop!!! And stated, and convinced the jury, that there was ammunition still commercially available. This would be 2 inch, 410 black powder cartridges!! The prosecutions ‘expert witness’ produced a modern nitro cartridge. The link with J Arnold is more problematic, if that is appropriate. Mr Buckland could not prove Hambrose existed and so the police prosecuted him for a revolver they found in Arnolds stash. The 26 items include 10 air-rifles, in transactions going back into the 1980s. I believe JJ Hambrose is a false name and that a he does exist. Why would Mr Buckland keep this ‘falsehood’ in his firearms register in the certain knowledge that sooner or later it would be discovered on inspection! The shooting fraternity need to search their conscience and find this guy. The police did not ask Mr Buckland for anything more than a verbal description of Hambrose and did limited investigating of his existence. They linked Mr Buckland unfairly to J Arnolds illegal stash and the press made out that Mr Buckland was largely responsible. This case is full of holes and damn right it needs looking into!

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