Offensive Weapons Bill

Further written evidence submitted by CART (Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team)(OWB156)

Additional written evidence to submission (OWB91) submitted by CART (Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team) by John Pidgeon

1. Clause 22 of the OWB seeks to ban ownership in private of 19 types of weapons, but has a new defence of "Historical Importance". The Parliamentary Debate and Committee Proceedings have so far not discussed this Defence at all. If this Bill is passed without this defence, some of the 65 Lords, 36 MP’s, 1 MEP and 7 Police and Crime Commissioners who have held Commissions in HM Forces may fall foul of this Bill. Item "r" under Section 141 of CJA 1988 is any curved bladed sword manufactured after 1954. Officers in HM Forces privately purchase their swords and tend to hold on to them when they retire. They and every other retired Officer in the UK are no longer exempt as serving members of the Forces. (The provision of a hook for hanging your sword before entering the Debating Chamber is unfortunately not one of the Defences listed in CJA 1988).

2. Clause 20 of OWB seeks to ban ownership in private of items prohibited for sale, hire, lend, gift and importation under Section 1 of the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959. This 60-year-old Act should be brought in line with the modern legislation, which have Defences to preserve our Heritage, Cultural, Theatrical activities and actions by the Crown and visiting forces.

3. Home Office Impact Assessment dated 14/10/2017 in Strategic Overview A1 Background para 16 w.r.t. private ownership in both CJA 1988 and OWA 1959 states; - " There would be defences available for this proposed offences similar to other knife legislation, and we are also considering defences on cultural, artistic and religious grounds. For example we would not wish to criminalise a display in a museum ." Can the Committee consider tabling the amendment suggested below to clause 20 in accordance with this stated aim:-

4. It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under Section 1 of the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959, or an offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (improper importation) in respect of conduct relating to specified weapons, to show that his or her conduct was only for the purposes of any of the following: -

(i) functions carried out on behalf of the Crown or a visiting force

(ii) to show that the weapon in question is one of historical importance.

(iii) to show that the weapon is an antique. For these purposes a weapon is an antique if it as manufactured before 1945

(iv) to show that this is only in their capacity as the operator of, or as a

person acting on behalf of, a museum or gallery."

(v) to show that this is for educational purposes only.

(vi) to show that this is only for one or more of the purpose -

(vi.i) the purposes of theatrical performances and of rehearsals

for such performances;

(vi.ii) the production of films (as defined in section 5B of the

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988);

(vi.iii) the production of television programmes (as defined in

section 405(1) of the Communications Act 2003)."

NB The proposed defence of Antique has been defined as pre 1945 for the OWA 1959 rather than pre 1954 as item "r" in CJA 1988 or 100 years for the rest of the items in CJA 1988, otherwise the cheap 1950’s flick knives will drop out of legislation after 35 years.

5. Justification for adding modern Defences to the old Offensive Weapons Act 1959 has been detailed in written evidence submitted by CART (Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team) (OWB91) paragraphs 36 to 48, and also OWB65 paragraphs 4 to 12, but since then a large number of supporting examples have been located. These include two Victorian flick knives in UK museums, flick knives and gravity knives which have been given by Police Constabularies to Museums and even examples which have been imported or purchased by a Museum. These are shown in Annex D.

6. Further justification for this is contained in the collective response from UK Museums during the consultation stage; joint response on behalf of the National Museum Directors’ Council, the Museums Association and the Association of Independent Museums Dec 2017. What their response fails to appreciate is that the 100-year definition of Antique will still exclude many of the items in Annex D. Also when a museum puts on a special exhibition, exhibits are often on load from private collectors. eg Dorset and Trafalgar exhibition in Dorset County Museum 2005; the weapons carried by Captains Bullen, Digby and Hardy were all on loan from individuals or the family.

7. The majority of our Heritage is in private ownership. A blanket ban on ownership without any defences has not been justified in the debate and is not proportionate to the social problem of knife crime, which largely involves items from the kitchen drawer. Passing this Bill without Defences will probably be ranked by future Historians as similar to the Iconoclasts of Cromwell's Army smashing Mediaeval stained glass or the Nazi’s burning modern Works of Art.

8. Without these defences added to OWA 1959, someone could purchase or own a WW2 Japanese Samurai Sword, which in the wrong hands could hack a man’s arm off, but could not purchase or own the antique amputee knife detailed in (OWB91) paragraph 43 and photo 2 which is designed purely to allow a one armed man eat his food. (Nor will the Science Museum be permitted to keep it).

9. The Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum of Scotland Yard hold a number of flick knives, gravity knives, knuckle-dusters, punch daggers, sword sticks etc. They have loaned one flick knife to the Museum of London in 2015 when a small portion of the Crime Museum’s artefacts were put on public display (loan contrary to the OWA 1959). Without the Defence of on behalf of a Museum or the Crown added, there will be the ridiculous scenario that they will no longer be able to hold the flick knives but can keep the handgun used by murderess Ruth Ellis.

August 2018

Annex D

Royal Armouries exhibit X.387 flick knife c 1871 to 1899 Acquired December 1973 from Antique Arms & Armour Dealer Michael German. Hilt in the form of a lower part of a stag's leg, made up from horn and hair cloth. The hoof is shod with a nickel plated shoe. There are vertically recurved quillons of the same metal. The grip accommdates a folding corkscrew.

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1758 Ivory gripped flick knife Purchased October 1999 UNWIN &/ RODGERS/ SHEFFIELD Pre 1891

Imperial War Museum exhibit WEA718 WW2 British airborne forces gravity knife by George Ibberson. Only known example in a UK museum.

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1741 Flick Knife Presented by the Tower Authorities 17/09/1992 The knife was removed from a German school child while visiting the Tower by a Yeoman Warder on 17 September 1992. The knife was presented to the Royal Armouries by the Tower Authorities through the office of Lt. Col Anderson. Initially this was marked down for disposal (PJL 13/10/1992) but was retained for its Tower History connection. On blade: F.E.S. Rostfrei, On handle: NATO MILITARY

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1687 WW2 Luftwaffe Gravity Knife Acquired from Hampshire Police, knife amnesty 23/01/1996

Pattern Room exhibit PR.10492 Gravity knife gifted by North Wales police, Colwyn Bay, December 1994

Pattern Room exhibit PR.9463 Gravity knife gifted by Sussex police,

Pattern Room exhibit PR.10912 German WW2 gravity knife presented by South Yokshire police, Sheffield, February1996

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1561 German WW2 gravity knife given after Police Amnesty of 1988. Rare trademark of MALSCH & AMBRONN

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1538 German 1980 Bundeswerh gravity knife

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1600 French 1960’s flick knife

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1738 all metal gravity knife purchased 24 May 1999

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1524 metal gripped flick knife ROSTFREI

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1733 American flick knife by George Shrade c 1970 Purchased 24 May 1999

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1528 Flick Knife Black plastic scales set into handle.

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1600 flick knife plated steel handle. BARGEON INOX

 

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1739 Italian Flick Knife post 1945 Purchased 24 May 1999

 

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1598 German Flick Knife Brass handle covered inside and outside with black plastic scales. FLORINOX/ROSTFREI

Royal Armouries exhibit XII.11516 Belgium 6 shot pin fire revolver c 1880 with flick knife blade. The firearm aspect of this item is exempt from the UK legislation but ironically the flick blade makes it illegal. Given by Home Office 2001.

Royal Armouries exhibit X.1544 Taiwan flick knife Steel grip with simulated mother-of-pearl plastic scales and brass lining.Veninetta Coria and Chi la laia firita sia mortale on the blade.

Royal Armouries exhibit XVIII.828 Spy attaché Case - Concealed Weapons including flick knife. Purchased from PS5, Nemus House, Stockport, Manchaster; 20th June 2002

City of London Police Museum. No online inventory but images of their collection show one flick knife in a display of knuckle-dusters, coshes, swordsticks etc.

 

Prepared 30th August 2018