Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Neil Hains (OWB178)

Dear Sir/Madam

I am contacting you to voice my objections to the Offensive Weapons Bill.

My first point of issue is the reasoning for the firearms changes being suggested. With only one .50 calibre firearm ever being stolen in the UK and no incidents of crime being committed with either a .50 calibre firearm or a MARS release system firearm (supposed rapid fire option), it seems to be quite unreasonable to suggest that there is a risk of either of these types of firearm being any higher risk than firearms not being mentioned.

The suggestion that a terrorist could potentially steal and use one of these firearms being the main reason to ban them seems quite ludicrous and based on nothing evidential to support the decision.

If we were to ban everything that could potentially be used as a weapon, we would have nothing left to use. Vehicles and currently illegal knives are FAR more likely to have a devastating effect in an attack and history shows that they (along with explosives) are the weapons of choice for terrorist activity.

Should a terrorist actually do as is suggested, they would be far less efficient in their task as .50 calibre firearms in this country are actually only allowed to be a single action (non semi automatic) and a MARS action is no faster than a good shooter with a lever action rifle on any given day.

Also, by restricting the ownership of MARS type rifles, the government is preventing disabled people who struggle to manage with certain types of firearms from enjoying the hobby.

My second point of issue is the suggested changes to the knife purchasing restrictions.

It is absolutely impossible to stop knives being used in crime by banning any of them as at the end of the day, we all use knives in the kitchen and at any point they could be taken outside and used in anger.

Any law abiding citizen would not consider this but the nefarious among us have no issue in doing so.

Making it difficult for a law abiding citizen to purchase an inanimate object will not only frustrate no one but the law abiding, it will also make no difference to the criminal who has the intent of doing harm.

The simple fact of the matter is that no matter what restrictions and bans are put in place, criminals have always (and will continue to) been able to obtain black market versions of the weapons they wish to use or will be creative enough to find an alternative, make one, obtain one which is available legally but use it for illegal acts.

Whatever we do to change laws, criminal actions will not change for the simple reason that criminals do not obey the law.

They don't care that in 1996/97 we banned the short barrelled handgun and semi automatic rifles for centre fire ammunition. They simply carried on regardless using imported, modified firearms or converted deactivated firearms back into usable items. A criminal is not effected by a ban, only law abiding citizens who are wishing to enjoy a sport that they choose.

The two main changes to our firearms laws in recent times were after massacres where children and innocent members of the public were killed. This is entirely something I would rather did not happen and I am grateful for the fact that it has not happened since. The reasons behind it not happening since are NOT the banning of the firearms used. The reason we have not seen the issue again is due to the more strict rules, checks and background investigations the police carry out before offering a firearm licence.

Both of the massacres involved shooters who were known to the police for having past mental health issues that were untreated and both had been reported for their unusual behaviour running up to the massacres happening.

Lets be entirely honest, a grown man with the intent to harm could do just as much, if not more damage to innocent lives with other items we currently have no ban on.

Children would be no challenge for him in the first place and vehicles and other day to day items could (and have been) used to take innocent lives.

The home office line in these matters quotes public safety and risk. The evidence against these decisions shows that no benefit to public safety will ensue and that the risk is actually from the people that use these items and not the items themselves.

Since the 1996/97 amendments to firearm legislation, gun crime has risen. It has never fallen to a level lower than before 1996 and has now shown in London to be of no benefit to stopping the criminals acts occurring.

The many shootings we have had in the first half of this year are in fact all committed with firearms that are illegal to obtain and own in this country.

Not one of the crimes involving firearms or indeed knives have been committed with a knife/firearm that is legal to have on the street or in some cases even own. Evidence again that bans do nothing for public safety and banning more items won't stop the people who don't care about the law.

Where does this end? Should we ban vans that were used in the London Bridge attacks? Should we stop chefs from cutting food in case their knives get stolen and used for crime? These seem as ridiculous to us all as the current bans sound to me.

All the rights I'm told by the government I have are being slowly eroded by the establishment with no reasoning and as a knee jerk reaction based on nothing.

It has been proven in many nations (including the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Northern Ireland) that firearms ownership does not equate to higher crime rates.

As a Section 1 FAC holder I’m genuinely concerned that if this bill is passed on the grounds of fear mongering and ‘what ifs’ it will open the floodgates for tighter and unnecessary restrictions being imposed by the Government and the hobby that I and many others enjoy will be eroded until it is no more.

This will result in the loss of many jobs across the country in workplaces such as firing ranges and country pursuit retailers and manufacturers.

September 2018

 

Prepared 10th September 2018