16 Dec 2016 – Baroness Williams has confirmed on behalf of the government that the UK will implement the EU’s flawed firearm deactivation standards in spite of the Brexit vote.
In an open letter to Lord Rosser sent last week, confirming the contents of the government’s final amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill, Baroness Williams wrote: “While the UK remains a member of the EU, we will continue to abide by the EU standards.”
She added: “These amendments will afford flexibility in the longer term to set our own higher standards.”
The move will be seen as a slap in the face for all those in the licensed firearms, collecting and historical re-enactment communities who voted for Brexit in order to escape from the EU’s ill-informed and dangerous meddling with firearms laws.
It is also strange given that the EU itself has tacitly admitted that it got it wrong on deactivation by confirming it will revise its confusing deactivation diktat in 2017, which only came into force in April this year.
The amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill will, Baroness Williams writes, create new criminal offences of selling or gifting “defectively deactivated” firearms. These are no such thing: the words “defectively deactivated” have been deemed to mean any firearm deactivated to the UK standards before April 2016.
The EU standards imposed in April require multiple visits to the proof house, rather than the single visit previously needed to certify a deactivated firearm, as the specifications issued by the EU required extra welding (allegedly to really, definitely, absolutely prevent reactivation) which would have concealed whether required internal cutting and welding work had been properly done. British authorities reacted with dismay and pressure has been put on the EU to implement the UK standards instead of their own botched version.
The EU standards also cover magazines, items which British MEP Vicky Ford was hoodwinked into banning. Shooters can apply for exemptions from the ban; it is unclear what casual collectors and hobbyists are meant to do.
These criminal offences will destroy the legitimate deactivated firearms market overnight – perhaps no bad thing, as those who want to own antique and historical firearms will just have to get certificates to hold the real things instead of butchering them – and quite probably drive large chunks of the market underground. The latter is unquestionably a bad thing and will simply encourage more police hostility and suspicion where any firearms, whether licensed or deactivated, are concerned.