23 June 2016 – A man was arrested in Camden, north London, on Monday on suspicion of having an airsoft Uzi in a public place without a reasonable excuse.
The Evening Standard reports that the 51-yr-old man was arrested at about 7am after being seen walking down Camden High Street with the “replica” Uzi, which was painted blue in parts, hung from his shoulder.
From details given by the police to the paper, it appears that the Uzi was actually an airsoft BB gun.
It is not a blanket criminal offence to have a replica or imitation firearm in a public place – as made clear in section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968, as amended – but the accused must show “lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him)” for doing so.
Presumably, as one cannot have lawful authority for possessing a thing which doesn’t need a licence or prior permission to have in public, the arrested man was unable to give a reasonable excuse to the firearms cops who showed up to arrest him – though he may yet present one in court, if it gets that far.
The blue colouring is to comply with section 38 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, which states that replica firearms (including airsoft guns) sold to people who aren’t members of an airsoft site must have at least 50% of them painted a specified bright colour. The Wolf Armouries airsoft shop has a plain English guide to all of this.