Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Current situation—Ad Hoc with NO Certification of Quality of Disablement

  Some have had a minimal amount of disablement as shown on the picuture below. Note that no disablement whatever has been made to the cylinder which is still capable of accepting and firing bulleted cartridges:

  Quite clearly it is a simple matter to re-convert this revolver to be able to fire bullets by removing (with hacksaw) the blocked and cut part of the barrel. Sufficient good, rifled barrel remains to produce an accurate and lethal revolver again, and of course no work needs to be done to the cylinder.



  This picture illustrates disablements that should be made to race-starting guns to render permanently disabled and incapable of accepting or chambering bulleted cartridges and incapable of firing such cartridges:

  The disablements are as described and shown in the attached Home Office document "FIREARMS LAW: Specifications for the De-Activation of Firearms Ref ISBN 0 11 341142 1" Revised 1995[116]. Hereafter referred to as "FL-De-Act".

  Slotting the barrel FL-De-Act page 17(b) or over-boring FL-De-Act page 17(c) ensures that if a bulleted cartridge is "fired" the explosive gases will blow past the bullet and so impart no velocity to it.

  Pinning the barrel to the frame FL-De-Act page 17(2) renders wholly futile attempts to re-convert this revolver to fire bullets by use of a hacksaw.

  Inserting a steel collar FL-De-Act page 18 Method 3, welding FL-De-Act page 18 Method 2, or pinning FL-De-Act page 18 Method 1 prevents any bulleted cartridge being inserted, or any bullet from being discharged. Effectively only blank cartridges can now fit into the modified cylinder.


  As with De-Activated firearms all work carried out to blank firing pistols should be checked and certified by bearing a "mark" or "stamp" FL-De-Act page 17(f) by a Proof House approved by the Secretary of State for that purpose.


  It may be said that the use of a pin, weld or collar block method to permanently disable a race-starting gun from chambering or firing bulleted cartridges or bullets might be dangerous. The British Army has used temporary devices (that achieve the same effect) to block the barrels on rifles and machine guns used for blank firing on exercises with no reported danger or accidents.

  If "Race Starters" reject such measures as above as impractical, even though they are not, then Lord Cullen's Recommendation (Chapter 12 "Public Enquiry into the Shootings at Dunblane Primary School") should be considered.

    "Consideration should be given to restricting availability of . . . revolvers of any calibre which are held by individuals . . . preferably by their disablement . . . or, if such a system is not adopted, by the banning of the possession of such handguns . . ."


  The German company of Rohm produces race-starting guns in .380" (9mm) calibre that are made of a weak metal alloy and incapable of bearing the pressures produced by a bulleted cartridge.

  That they are not capable of being used to fire bullets is clearly seen by the attached catalogue page[117] that that notes them as "Vente Libre" (Free Sale—No Restrictions or Licence Needed) in France and the most of the EC.

  Because of a fear that these could fire CS Gas cartridges the Home Office has blocked their sale in the UK. Thus they are not currently available, as the law stands, in Great Britain.

  The Home Affairs Select Committee might, perhaps, ask the Secretary of State why his officials block the use of such non-lethal race-starting guns in this country whilst being seemingly quite happy for private individuals to possess lethal revolvers (fully capable of killing) merely to make a "bang and a flash" to start a running race?


  The possession of lethal revolvers for race-starting purposes be:

    —  only allowed where such revolvers are slotted, over-bored, pinned and blocked as shown in the diagrams. Such work to be Proof House Certified, Marked and Stamped; or

    —  the possession of "disabled" lethal firearms for race-starting be prohibited and the law changed so that non-lethal revolvers of the Rohm type be allowed.


  This would have advantages of simplifying the law and removing all race-starting guns from the licensing procedure.

  Existing race-starting guns of the Enfield .380" type would be surrendered to the police for destruction.

  Race Starters would now be able to buy revolvers of the Rohm type, non-lethal purpose made for race-starting and incapable of firing bulleted cartridges.

  Existing controls on CS Gas ammunition would prevent their misuse with such cartridges. Indeed the use of which has never been a problem in UK. No evidence, for example, appears to exist of CS Gas ammunition having been used in those .38" revolvers possessed for target shooting (now banned) which were fully capable of chambering and firing it.

  Finally, it has to be asked if such arrangements are considered to be normal in the EC and the rest of the world . . . with Race Starters using non-lethal revolvers of the Rohm type, is it not time—as we enter the21st century—that this practice be adopted here?

November 1999

116   Not printed. Back

117   Not printed. Back

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