What does the EU gun ban vote mean for Great Britain?

15 July 2016 – Following the EU Parliament’s vote to endorse a ban on all centrefire semi-auto firearms and their magazines on Wednesday, what does it mean for British shooting?

Myth: Brexit will protect us from this insanity

Brexit may not help us. Although we voted to leave the EU on 23rd June, the UK has yet to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 50 is the legal instrument which says “so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!” to the EU. Until it is triggered and all parties agree the subsequent negotiations have finished, we remain an EU subject state.

The Countryside Alliance has already warned that changes to the EU Firearms Directive will probably affect us because of the time the government is taking over invoking Article 50. Despite yesterday’s appointment of David Davis MP as the new Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, even he has conceded that Article 50 will probably not be invoked until early 2017.

With Article 50 negotiations taking a legal maximum of 2 years to complete, we will not get out of the EU until 2019 at the latest. It is possible that we could finish the negotiations earlier than the 2 year maximum period and that’s probably our last hope now. If, however, it’s dragged out to the last day, and even if we allow for the EU gun ban negotiations to drag on into the middle of next year and add on a 6 month implementation period, we still face being hit by it in early 2018 at the very latest.

Fact: Your .22 semi-auto will not be affected

Although concrete information on the EU gun ban’s precise wording is very hard to find at the moment, many EU documents refer explicitly to “centrefire” firearms as being subject to the ban. You can view this as UK MEPs standing up for British interests, or you can view this as “I’m alright Jack, sod the rest of you!”

We should not celebrate something that makes our cousins on the Continent less free, or subject to idiotic kneejerk British laws. The responses of BASC and the CA to Wednesday’s vote, by crowing that British .22 semi-autos won’t be affected, are utterly shameful. Mind you, at least they bothered to take an interest in the whole proceedings, unlike the NRA, which – except for a “please write to your MEP” note back in November – has since said nothing publicly, other than sitting on its arse thinking up new ways of screwing target shooters for more money.

I suppose you can view the BASC and CA responses as trying to keep uninterested politicians at least vaguely on side by patting them on the head, but this sort of appeasement is what has kept the noose slowly tightening around our collective necks.

If you own a lever-release or MARS action, be worried

We do not yet know what the precise wording of the EU gun ban will be. If it becomes EU law next autumn, we should have a better idea nearer the time. We then have another 3 months or so for updates to the Firearms Act to be tabled, implementing the EU gun ban and outlawing your firearms.

The reason lever-release actions and MARS actions are legal (which, technically speaking, are self unloading firearms) is because British law only bans “self loading” firearms, covering anything greater – or smaller – than .22″. If the EU gun ban wording is different from that, you can bet your bottom dollar that our police will be whispering in the Home Office’s ear, demanding a ban on our innovative and useful rifles.

We may be lucky, and we may be able to persuade our MPs that current laws already cover the EU semi-auto ban. Equally, we may be unlucky. It all depends on whether the EU diktat’s current wording, about banning firearms “capable of firing more than 21 rounds without reloading” is adopted directly or made conditional on the insertion of a standard capacity magazine.

I own standard capacity magazines. Will they be banned?

Probably, yes. If your non-22 mags are capable of accepting more than 21 rounds, the EU is explicitly coming for them. We don’t yet know whether it will be a crime to possess such magazines or if the criminal offence will only be committed if such a mag is inserted into a rifle.

Thinking about how the UK has approached magazine capacity bans in the past, we will probably end up having to submit pinned and welded magazines to the Proof Houses for certification. No doubt London and Birmingham are jumping for joy at having their revenue streams boosted and guaranteed for decades to come.

What about section 1 shotguns?

Bad news, fellas. See the part above about MARS and lever release actions. EU law does not distinguish between shotguns and firearms like British law does, so as far as the Brussels bureaucrats are concerned, you’re in possession of a semi-auto centrefire firearm. Tube magazine-fed shotguns that can accept fewer than 21 cartridges will be OK, though.

UKSN’s author knows little about practical shotguns in general and so can’t really say more than that. Internal magazines of less than 21 rounds should be alright. I don’t think there’s any S1 shotties out there fed by detachable magazines a la AR-15s, but if there are, owners may be at risk in the future.

And UK legal pistols?

Again, it depends how the unelected bureaucrats implement this “firearm capable of firing more than 21 rounds without reloading” part. Section 7 pistols, automatic pistols kept as slaughtering instruments, and any other magazine-fed self-loading pistol capable of accepting a mag holding more than 21 rounds are likely to be caught by the EU gun ban.

Hopefully we can negotiate an exemption from our own MPs when they are ordered to rubber-stamp the ban into UK law. Living life through exemptions is a dangerous and expensive business, though.

.22″ pistols should not be caught by the ban. Good news if you’ve got a GSG 1911 clone.

Do I need to do anything right now? Get rid of any of my kit?

No.

For the moment we are OK. This will come into EU law by late 2017 or early 2018 and we may be able to have it neutered in Parliament over here. It will need amendments to primary legislation, meaning a full Parliamentary debate.

What’s this exemption thing for target shooters that I’ve just read about?

Vicky Ford MEP has proposed that subject states can exempt owners of semi-autos from the ban if they are a member of a recognised club and are involved in shooting competitions with that club. We don’t know much more about this at the moment – its first mention was in a press conference held yesterday – and it will be a point of great interest.

From a legal point of view, we might expect to see all non-22 semi autos moved to section 5 and then dispensations granted, in the same way as hunters are authorised to use expanding bullets. This method would create an increase in workload for the police, meaning FAC fees could be expected to increase as a result.

The sensible way of implementing it would be to say “all section 1 target shooters here already have to have club membership and approved clubs can already get on with their business with little or no embuggerance factor, so the EU exemption is designed into our system already and thus there is no need for change.”

This is not how the rest of the EU is set up, and it is a source of national embarrassment that our own restrictive laws will be foisted on free countries that don’t want them.

 

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12 thoughts on “What does the EU gun ban vote mean for Great Britain?

  1. Nick B

    “I don’t think there’s any S1 shotties out there fed by detachable magazines a la AR-15s, but if there are, owners may be at risk in the future”

    SPAS-12s, Voltro PM5’s, Akdal MKA, Falken *1, Bora 99 shotgun (these last three are all very similar AR15 a likes) – I have a Bora 99 with a firebird precision lower and forend, takes AR15 pistol grips and triggers and stocks – looks very much an AR15 but scaled up a tad. Good news is – nobody as yet does double stack mags for these sorts of shotguns and as the cartridge is rimmed – they’re a bugger to sort. Given the diameter of the cartridge also, a 10 round mag is as long as say a 40 round .223 mag. There’s a few MD20 drum mags over here – but again, due to size of cartridge they hold 20 max.

    FWIW, yesterday I ordered drum mags in .223 and x39 from Germany before they become impossible to get hold of – never particularly been bothered about having them before hand – but it feels like a big FU to Europe. I also ordered 4 x 25 round .308 PMAGs for the exact same reason. Some may think this panic buying, but I’d call it prudent – given we don’t know what will happen with import / export of these oh so dangerous magazines in the future even if there’s an exemption for target shooters.

    Perhaps it’s time we all put in for S5 authority and overwhelm the Home Office and Sec of State with the requests in a show of how stupid the whole endeavour is. S5 in and of itself proves that properly vetted persons can be trusted with these firearms, and that the firearm itself is no more dangerous than a house brick without the squishy meat sack behind the trigger.

    Given the tragic events in France last night I await to see the status of the firearms this criminal / terrorist (tbd) had in his possession and how any of these new restrictions would clearly have stopped this event from happening.

    Perhaps trucks over 7.5 tonnes will now require S5 authority to possess…….

    The thought occurs, how far would this truck have gone and how people may now otherwise be ok had the population had the option to carry if they so wished (I’m on the fence with this one, I trust myself to carry, but no so comfortable with the wider population – particularly as this would give legal means to possess and carry to lone wolf’s and domestic terrorists with no history, perhaps restrict this to S5 holders and FAC holders of 5+ years who are members of HO clubs?). This may seem very distasteful given the timing, but I am generally curious to know just what it would take for the population en masse to demand the right to protect itself.

    My particular worry is that as long as we the law abiding have our sports attacked, and the more innocents are slaughtered, the more our politicians take the easy route (tell me more about how terrorists and criminals obey the law?), the more we’ll withdraw, become isolationist and the more those sections of our society tarred with the same brush as these scum will be persecuted. Laws are not the solution to this problem, actions need to be taken.

    *1 – http://www.dolphinguncompany.co.uk/index.php/component/content/article/40-site-pages/135-falken-shotguns-now-available-at-dolphin-gun-co

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  2. Meat and Two Veg

    By way of correction it is not Article 50 that needs to be invoked.

    It is the 1972 ECA makes UK Law subordinate to all EU legislation.

    Once Parliament votes to revoke this Act then all EU legislation which has become incorporated into the statute is null and void. The revocation of this Act is a necessary precursor to invoking Article 50 and has no 2 year waiting/processing period.

    I too hold a magazine loading Section 1 shotgun and shall, in the immediate short term, be sourcing high capacity magazines whilst it is still legal to do so. I also own and regularly use high capacity magazines for Straight Pull and Bolt Action Section 1 Firearms, quite what the legal status of these will be has yet to become clear.

    A significant factor of concern for UK MP’s has to be the willingness of the voting population to accept EU Legislation which is against UK national interests whilst the Article 50 is taking place whilst knowing that such legislation was already null and void as the result of the necessary revocation of the 1972 Act.

    We live in interesting times indeed.

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  3. Anon

    I’m frankly amazed as how the EU and UK just keep chipping away at firearms expecting it to make a difference. Shootings are admittedly so low but what else are these changes going to do.

    I also find it unreasonable in 1953 when they took away the cause for owning a firearm as self-defense that they didn’t make other allowances and allow people to carry say pepper spray. How on earth have we allowed ALL rights ot self-defense to be removed? Even pepper spray is legal in France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, etc.

    I also found this interesting and shows how despite having a load of guns, Switzerland are somehow a million miles away from the death rates of America:

    http://www.guncite.com/swissgun-kopel.html

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  4. Sean

    I think the UK has one great advantage that should be hammered home to the EU.The great clusterfuk that was the UK handgi=un and semi auto rifle ban.How much it really did cost the tax payer in the end and the time it toook,is never really mentioned.Now,try and do this on an EU wide level and it is estimated this bill will run into the billions.

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  5. Colin J

    Could of shotties Spring to mind – saiga drum mags (might be 20’s though) but definitely messes with the X-rail tubular mag extension which adds up to a total of 22/23 rounds in you M2 – don’t think there are many around in UK/EU but it gets canned even those go Vcky Ford has written on her Facebook pages in response to some it won’t affect shotguns – they do not have any idea what they have just banned!

    Vicky ford said at the beginning of the voting that she updates the magazine capacity wording to remove the number of rounds restriction, but I’ve not seen any evidence of this being reported yet – I’ll have another listen to the meeting on EU TV

    I’m currently looking to open a turn up and shoot pistol range in northern France and this really could put a spanner in that project which is somewhat frustrating given where my negotiations have got to and the time and money I’ve already invested in it.

    I’ve also got a mate with a massive deact business who has literally thousands of AK magazines in stock – hes not to happy either!

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  6. Bungameng

    Given that UK was alongside France the main pusher of the EU Gun Ban, what makes you think that the British politicians won’t push through the original Commission version that is already under table through national parliament?

    Countries like Estonia, Finland, Sweden were very likely to vote against the EU Gun Ban until their politicians met with British and French counterparts.

    Only Poles withstood immense diplomatic pressure simply because their new government couldn’t care less and Czechs because the EU Gun Ban there would mean about 400.000 legal guns immediately entering black market – and that is official Czech Ministry of Interior estimate. The Ministry further noted that “while now the black market with guns in Europe mostly comprises of cold war weapons, majority of them in poor condition, the firearms that might enter the black market from now legal owners are mostly modern and in good condition” winking at all Czech AR 15 and tuned up vz.58 owners.

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  7. Nick Harman

    ‘I trust myself to carry, but no so comfortable with the wider population ‘

    That if I may so, is a pretty appalling thing to say. I don’t trust you to carry and neither does he wider population in any sensible society.

    You may have recurrent fantasies about pulling out your gun and saving the innocents in a situation, but we have nightmares about you pulling out your gun just because someone annoys you.You may not believe you’d do that, but can we really be sure?

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    1. Nick B

      Hi troll,

      I bet you can’t sleep at night knowing that I drive to my ranges with firearms in my car – or that I carry them from said car to a range and sometimes that’s done in public to and from a gun shop.

      All that time I’m carrying and yet – nothing happens.

      I have no fantasies (about guns at least…..yet) nor saving innocents, but I do think about myself – what an appaling thing eh?

      My point about wider society was aimed at those not currently in possesion of an fac / sgc – ie those with no experience nor legitimate interest – but thanks for turning this into a personal insult.

      One thing to consider re: guns, hanguns and carry – what did it take to stop every terrorist incident ever?

      Good men armed with what? lollipops?

      Proof right there that they are neccesary and that there are mechanisms in place that prove people can be trusted. I must confess I am bored of having this discussion with you Nicholas H – I fear nothing will change your mind because:reasons……

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