Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Gareth Rowlands (OWB111)

I am writing submit written evidence to the public bill committee considering  the Offensive Weapons Bill HC Bill 232.

I object to the clause which seeks to place new restrictions on online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products, including restrictions on deliveries to residential premises. This will be a burden to people who use knives and other bladed and pointed tools in their legitimate businesses and hobbies and this burden would be disproportionate to any benefit to public safety. I have seen no evidence that knives used in crimes are often obtained by post, or that the people using knives would be unable to obtain them in person. Since there is a potentially lethal knife in the kitchen drawer of practically every house in the country I don’t see how this could usefully prevent access to knives by people with criminal intent.

The proposed new definition of a flick knife will catch assisted opening knives which have legitimate uses, and this too will have zero effect on knife crime.

I also object to the proposed bans of two types of firearm for reasons which are unclear. I believe that neither type has ever been used in a crime in great Britain .

The two types (high muzzle energy and "rapid firing")  are very different, and have very different concerns over their potential misuse, I would argue that even if the designs of "rapid firing" rifles are deemed to be too close to replicating the functionality of semi-automatic rifles, banned in the UK since 1988, that has no connection to high muzzle energy rifles which are by their nature large, unwieldy, slow firing rifles used only for long range target shooting and of no interest to criminals or terrorists.

If the primary concern is that terrorists will obtain these guns through legal routes I should point out that the firearms licensing system has so far been 100% successful in stopping terrorists from obtaining guns in the UK. Of the many plots there have been they would all have used guns if they could obtain them, but none has.

This provision of the bill is tokenistic, as we can see from the proposed ban on "bump stocks" which simulate fully automatic fire from a semi-automatic rifle. These are of no use in the UK since semi-automatic rifles (apart from .22 rimfire which don’t generate enough recoil force for them to work anyway) are already banned and therefore there is nothing to attach a bump stock to!

I urge careful scrutiny of the proposals to prohibit these firearms, interrogating the claimed enhancements to public safety and challenging the risk assessments produced but not published by the NCA.

July 2018


Prepared 13th August 2018