Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Andrew Stevens, Antique Swords UK/EU (OWB18)

With regard to the proposed law to make it an offense to post bladed items to home addresses in the UK: I understand the purpose of this measure and in general support it (and understand the reasons for which it is being proposed), but I would like to make you aware of the following points:

· Antique, vintage and ceremonial swords should not be afflicted by this new law as they are not and never have been part of the problem; you will not find one instance of such items being used to harm others today; garden forks are more dangerous / likely street weapons.

· The current law banning swords with curved non-traditionally blades over 50cm made from 1954 onwards has proven sufficient to identify and restrict potential weapons for crime as no-one is going to buy anything exempted to use as a weapon due to cost and fragility / age / suitability (as a modern weapon). The same rule would best and easily be applied to items sent by courier. Currently, only DHL and ParcelForce allow legal swords to be carried. Your bill needs to understand that we can not use UPS, Fedex, DPD, etc due to their own zealous regulations to protect their staff from possible injury.

· If no exemption is given to antique / vintage / militaria collectible dealers, I will be out of business, unable to provide for my family, period. The state would then need to provide for me and mine as I am unable to work normally due to medical issues.

· There is a worthwhile industry in and worth millions to the UK economy (including exports) currently for the sale of historical and ceremonial bladed items to legitimate collectors and even serving armed force officers. I am one of those collectors and suppliers. 

· I  most strenuously advocate that such items be given an exemption or, at the very least, a "defense" similar to that for sporting and re-enactment items. I would point out that sporting bladed items make much more effective street weapons than rusted, aged / blunt / rusty 200 year old swords from the Battle of Waterloo or the Charge of the Light Brigade, or modern swords (such as Wilkinson Swords which are no longer made but which serving officers require second hand).

· To fail to do provide an exemption would be a serious omission in terms of the purpose of the proposed legislation, not least as it would effectively render historical items of great national interest as worthless.

·  It would be an infringement of the current liberties of legitimate law-abiding collectors and also very damaging to many law-abiding businesses and to the economic interests of this sector. Given I am not collecting / dealing in any weapons used in violent crime, your bill as it stands is a violation of my civil and human rights to provide for myself and my family.

· The only items connected with our business / industry which could possibly pose some risk are post WW2 Fairbairn-Sykes (Commando / Special Operations Executive) Fighting Knives. Post-WW2 because any made during WW2 would have a retail value of £300 or more; many having retail values of £1000 or more. There are post war knives which retail for around £50 which, I suspect, even then prices them out of the street violence market. I believe simply adding these knives to the existing (amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1988) ban on certain weapons would legislate sufficiently against them. Please feel free to browse our own site, www.antique-swords.eu and see for yourself that most of the items we sell would not readily make suitable knife crime weapons, and those that might are too well priced to be considered for abuse.

· I urge you not only to make an exemption for antique / collectible / ceremonial edged weapons, but to do it in such a way as you do not destroy the industry by proxy. I refer to the fact that there are only 2 carriers who presently allow edged weapons (under certain conditions / the law of course), Royal Mail (not often) / ParcelForce (very often) and DHL. If you make any legislation too difficult for them to implement, they will simply ban the carriage of all edged weapons, period, and then I / we / my industry will be in ruin. The same would apply if suddenly PayPal stopped allowing swords of any type to be paid for by PayPal. PayPal probably accounts for 50% of our overall business, and 95% of our export business.

· A possible worse case solution would be for an authority to issue permits to legitimate sellers of non-risk items (please do not overcharge or make this a long process) and to encourage ParcelForce / DHL to continue to carry such items from permit holding suppliers. This still would not address the PayPal aspect. I would like to point out that when the amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to ban non-traditionally made curved sword blades made 1954 onwards came out a few years back, eBay (the original parent of PayPal) banned all swords on ebay.co.uk. And I believe the risk regarding PayPal is substantial. So I believe an exemption without caveats for antique / collectible / ceremonial edged weapons is important.

· If someone works from home, is their home address purely residential under this new law?

· I would have thought hunting knives, which have a defense under your proposals, probably comes second after "combat knives" for likely suitable knife crime weapons. So, I believe some extra definition might be appropriate for these.

I strongly believe the proposed legislation ought to include an exemption for the above reasons stated.

Sincerely,

Andrew Stevens
Antique Swords UK / EU

5 July 2018

 

Prepared 9th July 2018