Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Steve Hunnisett (OWB175)

I am writing to express my concerns relating to a number of aspects in the amendments to the Offensive Weapons Bill, 2018.

The reference to hand loading ammunition.

Hand-loading of ammunition has been accepted practice in the UK for many decades and has never previously been a significant problem.  The amendment seeks to criminalise anyone in possession of the components and intent to manufacture ammunition.  This will adversely affect those firearms licence holders who routinely manufacture their own ammunition for no apparent gain and could restrict their requirement to shoot each firearm in their collection regularly.  It should also be considered that some calibres of ammunition, while not yet ‘Obsolete’ are extremely difficult to obtain and can only be made via hand-loading using alternative bullet heads.  I urge you to consider an exemption for firearms licence holders; primers are already only available to licence holders anyway.

The Amendment to the Deactivated Weapons Bill

The proposals to bring deactivated weapons to the current EU standard is totally unnecessary.  The British Deactivation standard prior to the EU Directive was more than adequate; a view supported by NABIS at the time. The EU had a problem because many member states had very minimal standards and a small number of deactivated guns were re-activated. The EU response was a monumental over-reaction which would have been comical had it not devalued private collections substantially.  The Home Office decided that it was not necessary to force UK collectors to meet the new EU standard and thus the prospect of very expensive compensation was avoided.  The proposal to bring all deactivated weapons to EU standard now will impose a huge cost burden on collectors, with large collections requiring many thousands of pounds to convert (it can cost close to £200 to deactivate a firearm).  In addition to this the EU will frequently update their standards which will impose even further future costs on collectors.  This is not reasonable- unless of course the Government is prepared to pay the costs involved (which will also include transportation and delivery).  

These two amendments would be expensive in terms of compensation- to achieve what?  As Ian Duncan Smith recently pointed out in parliament the UK hand-gun ban enforced 20 years ago has done nothing to stop the rise of hand-gun crime in his constituency recently so how will the ‘more of the same’ approach yield results? As with previous sets of firearms legislation in the UK the licensed sporting shooter/collector who has responsibly engaged in his /her sport or interest is heavily penalised while the criminals continue to innovate and improvise just as they always have.  Why go to the trouble of hand-loading ammunition and trying to reactivate a gun- all at great personal risk to the criminal- when a gun can be purchased via the dark web/black market that works straight out of the box? 

Steve Hunnisett
Safety Officer and NRA Approved Club Instructor
1066 Rifle and Pistol Club
Hastings

September 2018

 

Prepared 10th September 2018