Submission from the Police Superintendents'
Association, Cheshire Branch
I refer to the above subject and can inform
you that a comprehensive reply is being prepared for submission
to the Police Superintendents' Association. This reply is being
prepared by a member of the ACPO Firearms Sub Committee Group,
of which I am a member. This committee is chaired by Assistant
Commissioner James Hart, City of London Police.
I have however prepared a number of bullet points
under the three headings.
Within the Cheshire Constabulary area, during
1998, there was a total of 66 air weapon related offences committed,
these are broken down into the various categories of offences
(see attached paper).
I would suggest in the interest of public safety
that stricter control should be introduced into the possession
and use of air weapons with a lower age limit of 18 years for
possession and use (unless supervised by an adult over 21 years).
This would be in line with other European Community States.
A standard for testing of air weapons should
be introduced to provide consistent results of kinetic energy
and should also ensure a standard power limitation. This test
should be made by all manufacturers of air weapons to ensure that
they do not exceed the limits.
Recently in Cheshire there was a case of a shotgun
certificate holder using his air rifle within the boundary of
his garden. The shots were reported to the police and the weapon
seized. The air rifle was sent for forensic tests to establish
if the weapon was an air rifle or if it fell into the Section
1 category. The tests proved that it was over the 12ft lb limit
and was therefore a Section 1 firearm. Enquiries were then made
with the Registered Firearms Dealer where the air rifle was bought.
The weapon was purchased from a Manufacturer in Hull as an air
rifle under 12 ft lbs. Enquiries were made and it would appear
that the Manufacturer does not make any tests when he buys the
air weapons from abroad. These weapons are then sold on to Registered
The attached figures
show the use of shotguns (including rifles and handguns) in crime
within the Cheshire Constabulary area. As can be seen a total
of two incidents for 1998.
There still exists an anomaly in the current
licensing of shotguns and firearms. This two-tier system should
be addressed to bring shotgun licensing in line with firearms
licensing. It is a farce that the criteria to obtain a firearm
and its continued use is so rigorous and closely monitored and
yet not the case to obtain and use a shotgun. A shotgun can kill
the same as a firearm.
The Firearms Amendment Act 1997 successfully
removed handguns from circulation. As with any legislation there
are exceptions to this such as historical handguns, vets using
pistols for humane destruction etc.
The disposal of the weapons has, in the main,
been achieved smoothly and effectively, the problems arise when
the applicant is in dispute with the Home Office over values etc.
The police then must retain these weapons and accessories until
the claim is resolved.
The ban in 1997 of handguns has not made a significant
decrease in the amount of firearm certificate holders in the Cheshire
Constabulary area. In December 1996 there were 2,745 compared
with December 1998 2,695. It would appear that the shooting fraternity
have made a move into other areas of shooting, these include rifle,
carbine rifle, muzzle loading pistol/revolver to name but a few.
Some of these are new and not so new.
As with any industry there are changes and new
designs of firearms being manufactured and brought onto the market
place, for instance long barrelled pistols. These raise doubts
from a licensing aspect and could be viewed as trying to circumvent
the law. This situation must obviously be closely monitored and
the work being carried out by the ACPO Firearms Sub Committee
Group certainly gives guidance and clarity to Chief Officers on
such issues. This committee also can put forward any recommendations
to the Home Office for changes in primary legislation.
Force Firearms Licensing Manager
13 September 1999
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