13 Oct 17 – Slightly more has emerged on the UK gun ban situation, courtesy of a message from the Fifty Calibre Shooters’ Association.
The message from the association’s chairman has made its way onto at least half a dozen shooting groups and forums. UKSN reproduces it in full below, with commentary following. Parts of interest have been bolded by UKSN.
Last Friday Andrew Mercer (NRA), and Paul Dale (BASC) met with the home office regarding such matters as the club license fees. However they also took the opportunity to raise the issue of the proposed ‘ban’ on .50 and ‘rapid firing’ firearms, in an attempt to establish what exactly is the background to this consultation.
Apparently .50 and lever release firearms have been on the agenda for a while now, the Home Office have taken the opportunity to include these additional firearm controls in the latest raft of prohibitions on acids and the mail order of bladed weapons.
The following points are not set in stone, and until the consultation is open we cannot assume that these are 100% accurate, they may be subject to change.
1. The consultation process will open very soon, possibly next week.
2. The consultation will be short, and the outcome (if this results in changes or a ban) will be enacted as primary legislation (law) in JANUARY 2018.
3. The restriction will apply to anything that is capable of generating a muzzle energy that exceeds 10,000ft/lbs
4. The concern over civilians having access to .50 rifles has been elevated following the theft of a .50 rifle from an RFD, however the Home Office believed that the theft was from a regular shooter. They will be corrected on this matter. The stolen firearm was completely functional, in that it was taken with its bolt.
5. The other primary concern is that of the potential “material destructive” capabilities.
The following observations and comments were raised at the meeting.
· Andrew pointed out that the FCSA is a very well run club, with an excellent safety record. No criminal use in the UK.
· If these rifles are banned, then the compensation payments bill will be very high due to the extraordinary cost of such rifles and associated equipment.
· We do not use section 5 ammunition, we use target ammunition that is not designed to have any destructive capabilities.
· BASC are most upset that this consultation has been announced without any prior warning, as this in contrary to an agreement previously put in place to eliminate any ‘unexpected surprises’.
· The Home Office REALLY doesn’t like lever release firearms.
I spoke with Andrew at length after his meeting. We discussed the above, in particular points 4 and 5.
If the Home Office is concerned that these rifles might fall into the hands of criminals (point 4 above) then we need to provide a solution. The solutions discussed (between the Home Office and the NRA) were as follows:
· Complete ban
· Grandfather rights – i.e. you can keep and use your .50, you can never sell it to another shooter, when you die it gets destroyed.
· Make .50 rifles section 7.3, this was deemed impractical as we travel vast distances between ranges, we have no armoury to store the rifles in at a range.
· Improve home security, separate the bolt and keep this in a separate safe in a separate room. Possibly require a monitored alarm system for the premises. I prefer this option.
The Home Office believe that these are material destruction devices (point 5). This is clearly rubbish when using section 1 ammunition. Andrew advised that to counter this argument we need to state the exact properties of a target projectile, or mil spec ball, impacting on a variety of targets. I have witnessed Amax turning to dust on the surface of a sand backstop, ball ammunition has similar properties. However rather than rely solely on a statement from us, we are calling in an independent ballistic expert, a non-member, and using a private range facility will conduct a series of tests. The evidence gathered will be used to prove our point.
BASC is on our side. However not all shooters are, yet. One worrying development that I leaned of today is that one police force are now reluctant to issue a variation for anything over .300 win mag, even to FCSA members. Hopefully this is just one police force and not a new national trend. Unless the entire shooting community backs this opposition campaign then expect to continue to see a never ending wave of consultations, resulting in the eventual ban of everything we enjoy.
Social media continues to be a huge problem, some outrageous comments being posted, along with photographs of military looking weapons that would scare the hell out of the average Guardian reader. So please don’t get involved in any such online discussions, please don’t post photographs and whatever you do don’t get angry. Everything we do online is being watched, angry folks with guns can expect an unwelcome visit from the law, especially in the current political environment.
As soon as the consultation goes live I’ll send out another email, with advice on how to respond.
Chris [surname removed by UKSN]
Chairman, FCSA (UK)
This update seems credible as something genuinely issued by the FCSA, though it cannot be found on the FCSA website.
The NRA issued an update on the 5th October, one day after BASC, condemning the ban plan and pointing out that it “appears wholly illogical and without reason“.
The threat to the licensed firearms community by police lobbying seems twofold. On the one hand, any firearm with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000ft-lbs seems to be at risk, not just ones chambered in .50BMG. The 10,000ft-lbs limit for Home Office approval (and consequential sharing/borrowing/shooting of, under section 15(1) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988) was quietly introduced within the last five years. At the time its purpose was unknown; now that becomes clear. Person or persons with malign intent towards the shooting community are working in concert within the police and the Home Office.
Though BASC previously said that only MARS actions were at risk, it appears from this that all lever-releases may be forcibly parted from their owners in order to appease the strange and perverse people who get their thrills by banning things that others enjoy using and taking part in. However, this is an analysis of a third-hand account by someone whose focus is neither lever release nor MARS actions, so may itself be wrong.
Broadly speaking, the sort of people who propose these bans depend on the cloak of public sector anonymity in order to operate below the radar, keeping away from anything that might trigger an external intervention or greater stakeholder engagement until, so they hope, it is too late to stop them. Shining a spotlight on these people tends to send them scurrying back into their foetid holes. With this in mind, it would be good if readers politely asked the National Police Chiefs’ Council why it has kept all FELWG (Firearms and Explosives Licensing Working Group) meeting minutes secret since it rebranded itself from its old ACPO identity years ago.
To the police employees who read UKSN: get a grip on your bosses. This kneejerk by you and yours is further undermining an already precarious police-public relationship that had precious little trust or faith to begin with, though, since the death of the shop-a-gun-owner hotline idea, that relationship was beginning to recover. It is not in the public interest for police to alienate the public by attacking an exceptionally law-abiding segment of it, particularly when you hope to be fed intelligence on potentially serious matters by that very segment. Voluntary intelligence-sharing depends on mutual trust and respect; you will destroy the basis for that by trying to destroy the hobby of a peaceful community.
Addendum: The FCSA website notes, most concerningly, that a police firearms licensing manager apparently contacted one of its members and threatened to lobby Parliament for a ban on his sporting equipment, in response to that member putting in a variation. (click here and scroll down to ‘Original announcement on the Law Commission consultation to all members – August 2015’)