2 Nov 17 – The Conservative minister driving the ban on .50-calibre and MARS action rifles appears to have deliberately misled Parliament in a written answer.
In a response to a written question asking whether any rifle clubs use armour-piercing ammunition, Nick Hurd MP stated this:
A small number of shooting clubs are approved to use firearms which use armour-piercing ammunition.
This is nonsense. There are no rifle clubs in the UK approved to use AP ammunition. It is banned from general use, and the legal approval framework for rifle clubs has no mechanism by which a rifle club can gain an exemption from the law here.
(source: I’ve set up two Home Office Approved rifle clubs from scratch, including writing their constitutions by starting from a blank sheet of paper and applying for the relevant categories of approval. My finished documents were checked and approved by police and the Home Office. I know this stuff very well.)
The only way an individual can get legal access to banned ammunition is by obtaining authority under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968. This is a deliberately onerous process: that exemption exists mainly for defence and security contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and so on.
Got a rifle of your own and fancy trying out AP ammo down your club with your mates? No chance at all – it simply does not and cannot happen within the law.
Why has Hurd lied, then? Layman’s explanation
Hurd is the minister piloting a police-driven ban on two firearm types used by licensed target shooters: a self-unloading rifle mechanism called MARS, and .50-calibre rifles. Police want these banned because they claim criminals might get hold of them through the legal licensing system.
This is nonsense: Britain’s firearms licensing laws are some of the toughest in the world for responsible, law-abiding people to navigate. The law, and the rifle clubs, are set up so wrong’uns get weeded out very quickly – incidentally, police also carry out extensive background checks on anyone applying for a firearm certificate.
To try and drum up some public support for banning things which have never been used or implicated in any crime*, the Home Office, via Hurd, is trying to label .50-calibre rifles “materiel destruction rifles” by creating a wholly false link between them and the use of armour-piercing ammunition by non-police civilians. AP ammo is banned, full stop. It has no place in target shooting, which is what the .50-cal shooters’s club does in the UK. That link goes to their website, check out what they get up to.
- IRA terrorists used .50-cal rifles in Northern Ireland during the troubles. These were illegally imported from abroad – not one was ever obtained from within the UK.
Here is a screenshot of the false and untrue answer by Hurd.