Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Isen Wharton (OWB174)

I would like to respond to the proposed Offensive Weapons Bill that is being pushed through government as we speak.

Firstly, I would like to say that there doesn't appear to much fact or evidence being used, on which to basis this further legislation. I won’t call it new legislation as violence is already illegal, and there is already legislation written to deal with acid attacks, noxious substances, administering them and firearms offences as well as other submitted ideals in this bill. There appears to be a lot of emotion involved, especially with regard people being hurt and a feeling something MUST be done. I must say that doing harm to public rights and entitlements to appease governments guilt or sadness is not how the country should be managed. Micro management of law abiding citizens only ends in trouble, our rights and entitlements should be protected and nurtured, not cut and removed when government fails. What are you doing to effect criminals?

Yes, I said 'government fails'. This legislation comes out of a rise in violent crime which in itself is a government failure for which many MP's feel guilt. The current Conservative government has overseen a systematic reduction in Police assets. Indeed, had the Paris attacks not taken place, the government was set to cut the number of firearms assets held by Police and further cut Police numbers to satisfy what appeared to be a Beeching style removal of funds in favour of private 'security' companies. Home Secretaries bias again?

Had terrorism not scored a huge success on our closest neighbour (France), our Police force would likely be an almost non-existent public expense. Add to this the current governments dislike of S.1 PACE stop search powers, because ethnic minorities felt overly targeted, coupled with the home offices leaning on Police forces to lessen its use of this power to attempt to appease this element of society; We have arrived at a more violent country with few Police resources to deal with it and a feeling by criminals that they can carry whatever weapons and implements with them they wish as there is no one around to search them and catch them. We have a generation of Police Officers who are afraid to use the stop and search powers because they feel they will be disciplined as a result. We also have a generation of Police Officers who carry so many crime investigations that they have no time for proactive stop and search or good old fashion face to face policing. Let alone investigating these crimes sufficiently to bring offenders to justice.

One could argue that the governments failed immigration policies have aided this rise in violence as on Friday we have immigrants fighting wars in far off places, killing and hating their fellow human beings and on Monday they arrive in the UK where government expects them to be pleasant, law abiding, productive citizens of the UK. Government is then surprised when it has given them free homes, free money and access to its populace, that they become criminals and continue their hatred of other humans but this time on UK soil. That is so NOT cricket.

What about the governments failed Criminal Justice and Prison systems that don't believe in punishment but follow this ideal of rehabilitation and keeping criminals in the public domain; after all, locking up the cancers of society is expensive, so they should be allowed to wander amongst us, eh. Whether they are violent criminals who haven't changed, sex offenders who haven't changed or drug dealers who have networked well during their short incarcerations. Indeed, prisons are large, locked buildings with huge walls and guards, yet government cannot stop prisoners running criminal enterprises from within, running social media pages from phones within or smuggling whatever they wish inside to make their incarceration more amenable to them.

Let’s look at the governments failed border security where illegal immigrants are smuggled into the country every day and, according to the Ross Kemp programme on violent crimes, 100's of illegal firearms are smuggled into the UK every week (that was just one dealer), and the tons and tons of illegal drugs that cross into our realm. Government can't even get that right; we live on an island with the world’s largest moat between us and the rest of Europe and still it gets through and into the hands of Criminals. The criminal that killed the GMP Officers Bone and Hughes had hand grenades, they aren't legal and must have been smuggled into the country or stolen from the governments military. Let’s not even start on the number of firearms and amounts of ammunition the governments armed forces lose every year; 27,000 rounds of ammo and 165 firearms in the three years up to 2009 (reported numbers) .... these items are used by the governments trained professionals and locked in secure military bases but are now most likely in the hands of criminals.

What a list of failings! Now, because violence is at fever pitch and government is at a loss as to how it can plug the holes, government has decided to do something, anything, "lets look like we're tackling it even though we are not". As usual, it is the law-abiding citizen that pays the price. There has been no increase in Police funding to tackle the issue; indeed, we're wasting £40bn on HS2 and giving £39bn to the EU in a ridiculous divorce bill and continuing to send money overseas to 'aid' other tyrants, sorry, I mean people in 3rd world countries who never see the money our government sends. There has been no national anti-violence task force put together to specifically tackle the overall problem with a holistic multi agency approach...... no, on the contrary, the government’s response is to;

1) take .50 cal rifles from properly vetted, Police interviewed, medically checked, background checked, private citizens who never commit crime because they want to keep their firearms locked securely at home in safes,

2) take MARS action and lever release rifles from properly vetted, Police interviewed, medically checked, background checked, disabled, private citizens who want to keep their firearms locked securely at home in safes,

3) stop U18's firing air rifles on private land at any time.... because a lot of crime takes place there, obviously,

4) stop online knife sales.... yet allow you to buy cutlery from a shop,

5) make properly vetted, Police interviewed, medically checked, background checked, S.2 Shotgun Certificate (SGC) Holders get a S.1 FireArms Certificate (FAC) to buy shotgun cartridges for their shotguns.

These and a number of other items on the Offensive Weapons Bill will do nothing to stem the tide of hatred and violence this country is experiencing, the main reason being that none of these people are criminals and its criminals that are committing the crime. It is unlikely that ANY of these firearms will fall into criminal hands because to obtain them is a risk. Criminals have plenty of other, less risky, ways to obtain illegal firearms in the UK; any medium to large town is likely to have a criminal dealer or someone making their own firearms (recently identified in the news when the NCA took down a factory). Plus see above about smuggling and military 'losses'. Indeed, all of the rifles used in the Paris shootings were illegal to own in France and were smuggled in from outside the EU. Also, I have heard it bandied about as a reason for the removal of .50 calibre rifles, is that terrorists in Northern Ireland have used these rifles to shoot military personnel. I would like to point out that these rifles will have arrived in Northern Ireland having illegally crossed the border from southern Ireland and would NOT have come from law abiding, properly vetted, medically checked, background checked, interviewed, enthusiasts and that criminals would not submit themselves to this process to obtain one of these expensive items.

MP's have even admitted that this legislation will not help.

So, with the government doing little to stem the tide of illegal guns, why are they, instead, tackling the legal ones? It makes no sense.

I am a Police Officer and a holder of an SGC and an Air Rifle. I use my shotgun and Air Rifle to assist a local dairy farmer to remove vermin from his farm and thereby make his farm more productive. Crows, rats and foxes all contribute to his losses and diseases within his herd; my reduction of these elements greatly assists him and I provide this service free of charge. I will soon be applying for an FAC to further enhance my ability to help and assist other farmers in the locality. All of this is at a cost to me and not the farmer(s), my local Police Force is already snowed under with licensing requests and renewals that inundating them with S.1 licence grants just for shotgun ammunition is ridiculous. This legislation will negatively impact on me and my ability to carry out this social role. Government appears to have failed (that word again) to have done even basic research into this; proven by its constant use of incorrect terminology for instance.

I would also like to point out, because they occurred a long time ago and are easily forgotten, that the Dunblane massacre that caused hand guns to be taken away and the Hungerford massacre that cause semi-auto sporting rifles to be taken away, were also government failings that could have been avoided. Both criminals had well known mental health issues which their Police forces were made aware of and their relevant Police Forces failed to revoke their licences prior to their heinous deeds. Had government done its job properly all those people would still be alive.

It is worth noting at this point that the removal of hand guns and semi-auto sporting rifles had zero impact on gun crime, and in fact gun crime rose more quickly as a result of their removal, as did violent burglaries. All that happened was that law-abiding citizens were forced to give up their private property to make the government feel better about its mistakes, private citizens could have been allowed to utilise those items in self-defence thereby reducing violent crime.

This leads me to pointing out that Northern Ireland (part of the UK) still has handguns as well as concealed carry rights for self-defence, what makes them so special that the rest of the UK can't have them too? US statistics show a steep decline in violent crime when handguns are allowed, and concealed carry is permitted. Likewise, Czech Republic (part of the EU) so vehemently supports handgun ownership and concealed carry that they enshrined it in law when the EU law makers came sniffing. They too see its value in the reduction of violent crime but the UK seems to be missing the beat. Please check these countries and these particular rights out as they are a valid tool in allowing the law-abiding populace to protect itself from societies cancers, especially when the countries Police forces are on their knees; 20,000 less Police Officers since 2009 is an awful reduction for which we are now seeing the knock-on effects. When seconds count, the Police are minutes away...... or much longer if you live in a rural area that hasn't seen a Police Officer in months.

I would like to ask whether there will be a special dispensation for athletes in the FireArms sports as they will be negatively affected too? this will mean that there will be a reduction in national prestige as a result of this rash bill coming to fruition.

Hopefully this submission is read and understood, I would be willing to sit down with MP's if required to clarify my thoughts, I can also point you towards Firearms organisations that can help you to understand why Firearm ownership is SO important to the people of the UK.

To reiterate I do not support even one page of this proposed bill, it is ill thought out, ill researched and ill worded. It MUST be struck down and opposed at all costs.

September 2018


Prepared 10th September 2018