Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Rupert Cantello (OWB140)

Dear Committee Members

As all changes to legislation should be evidence based, I request that the provisions in the draft document related to high muzzle energy (HME) and MARS Rifles are removed.

Your own briefing material: Firearms Crime Statistics SN/SG/1940 and Firearms Crime Statistics CBP 7654 refer, especially the first.

Please see Charts 1 and 2 in SN/SG/1940.

Taking the banning of legally held handguns in 1997 as a clear and recent example, this has had no impact at all on the instances of crime involving firearms. In fact, the "Gun Crime" rate continued to rise peaking in about 2003 before declining. Table A in the document shows that the most incidents involving a rifle were negligible compared to other firearms.

Clearly there is no logic for further legislation prohibiting legally held firearms, in particular rifles.

Even if there exists the alleged police ‘intelligence’ that criminals are trying to smuggle such firearms into this country illegally, it has no bearing on law abiding individuals using them for target shooting sports under the U.K.’s very strict firearms licencing regulations.

All the evidence (produced by the Government) shows that legally held firearms have a negligible impact on crime. If there is further evidence then it should be published for all to see. Statistics on the legality of firearms and ammunition used to commit an offence are not published. Parliament should demand these figures and they are an essential precursor before recommending any new legislation covering legally held firearms.

With regards to bump-stocks, this is purely a publicity exercise. These are designed to work with semi-auto, centre-fire rifles which were banned in the UK in 1988.

Illegal weapons, as used by criminals, are by definition already illegal and any further legislation would be moot.

While the intent of the proposed Act with regards to the sale and possession of acids and "Zombie Knives" can and should be supported, great care should be taken in avoiding any un-intended consequences. Taking firearms as the example, the blanket banning of any item only truly effects the law abiding users of such. Those wishing to commit crime rarely have any regard for the law and so, legislating against the sale or ownership of such items in itself is a pointless exercise. Perhaps it would be more advantageous to investigate the reasons for any increase in such crimes and fight the root cause rather than to try and legislate against the outcome. It is better to fight the disease not the symptom.

I do hope that by working together with the shooting community rather than alienating them, we can all work towards a safer nation. Please remember, the community has a vested interest in keeping people safe, our sport relies on it! Please engage and work with us rather than demonising us as a group of "gun nuts" as has happened all too often.

Yours most faithfully

Rupert Cantello

August 2018

 

Prepared 13th August 2018