Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Earl J. G. Williamson (OWB180)

I write urgently to ask you to respond to the above Bill, due for its second reading.

Within this Bill is stated intent to ban the civilian possession of specific rifles:

· Designed for and used by the Disabled "MARS Rifles" (uses trigger or lever to release the bolt) – spun as "rapid firing" but without qualification of what "rapid firing" is… Please see the following YouTube link for an explanation of the system https://youtu.be/q11u6s0RmKs

· and "any rifle from which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic energy of more than 13,600 joules at the muzzle of the weapon, can be discharged".

· Currently prohibited knives will be prohibited again, when Kitchen Knives are used in 9 0 + % of attacks…

· Drain Cleaner will have to be sold to over 18’s (when 22-year olds have been arrested for acid attacks) Misuse is already controlled under S.5 Firearms Act 1968.

This proposed prohibition will bring to an end Disability access to rifle shooting sports and the long-established sport of .50 calibre rifle target shooting in the UK, a sport in which the UK participates and excels in annually in the World Championships held in the USA.

This part of the proposed legislation is deeply flawed for the following reason:

- The UK already has amongst the most robust firearms laws in the world.

- The proposed prohibition has been put forward without any evidence base that the current civilian ownership of such target rifles presents any enhanced risk to the public.

- No evidence is presented that the prohibition of such target rifles will enhance public safety, a fact now openly acknowledged by the Home Office .

- Such legally held target rifles have never been used in criminal activity and are dist i n c tly unsuited given their size, cumbersome nature and difficulty of use.

- Such unsuitable nature is supported by the fact that the sole one stolen in the UK was incomplete, as per standard practice to keep firearms non-functional when not in use and was found to have been abandoned by the criminal element that had stolen it, rather than used for a criminal activity. To use such rifles requires considerable experience, training and skill.

- To use such rifles in an "anti-material" role requires the use of specialist ammunition already prohibited for civilian ownership by current legislation.

- Furthermore, current legislation already requires Chief Officers of police who grant firearms certificates to ensure "the applicant can be permitted to have the firearm or ammunition in his possession without danger to the public safety …" This precludes those from legitimately acquiring such rifle who would be unsuitable to do so.

- The data collected during the recent consultation on Offensive weapons has been ignored by the Government.

It is thus evident that the Government is seeking to promote a perception of a hard stance on violent crime by unnecessarily limiting the legitimate activities of Disabled and able bodied, law abiding sports men and women.

I request that you question the evidence base for this proposed ban, whether it is required, would result in a proven enhancement of public safety or is instead disproportionate to any evidenced threat to public safety and should be abandoned, or amended to permit the continued use of such target rifles albeit under enhanced security arrangements.

I would be grateful for your urgent response to the above given the imminent Second Reading. I would be grateful if you would inform me of what steps you have taken in this regard.

Regarding the proposed violent crime bans,

Firstly, please let me apologise for the lateness of this communication, this is due to the proposed legislation receiving its first reading, unannounced, last Thursday and the second reading being scheduled for this Wednesday, in a deceitful attempt to rush this useless legislation through Parliament by a desperate government (yet again, a desperate government thinks banning things that do not exist in crime is good PR to be "seen" to be "doing something" that will have zero positive effect on crime).

I would like to raise some issues with you with regards to this badly justified repetitive legislation where all areas have currently existing controls and punishments.

The Offensive Weapons Bill (HC Bill 232) has 3 distinct areas that were covered in a consultation in October 2017. 78% of the 10,700 responses to the consultation feel that no extra regulation is required in these areas, as they are already controlled under existing legislation. However as expected, the government have ignored the feedback from the consultation…

The areas of control and prohibition are:

· Acids (Drain Cleaner)

· Knives (Prohibition on heirlooms in the home as these knives were banned in public in the 1960’s and haven’t existed in crime since)

· Firearms ("fast firing" AKA Disabled Shooters rifles. Prohibition based on muzzle energy of Specialist & historic rifles)

As a disabled individual and competitive shooter, I see NO validity for these prohibitions on things that are already prohibited, restricted or controlled, which will all serve to reduce my own quality of life and choice of tools & equipment available for their intended uses.

We all obviously want violent crime to be non-existent. However, criminals do not obey laws and evil will always exist. Yet again the everyday law-abiding citizen is the one being punished for the act of criminals and political idealism / elitism and as a distraction to the real issues.

This package of bans has been "justified" with the use of blatant falsehoods to Parliament, some have been corrected, but some of those original falsehoods have been repeated & distributed to MP’s for "form letters" in reply to Constituents (who are obviously educated on the subjects concerned).

This legislation will do nothing to protect the public. It seems to be designed from the outset to have zero effect on crime and is a complete waste of Parliamentary time and should be voted down in its entirety, as it will only affect the law abiding (who by default are never the problem).

These prohibitions have ONLY been designed to target items that statistically do not exist in crime, with the exception of drain cleaner (however, surely this is covered by "poisons" legislation for supply? With its use as a weapon being covered under Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 amongst other legislation).

As you will be aware, tens of millions of car batteries and many other things are also full of the same types of corrosive substances as drain cleaner and just need "concentrating" to gain additional strength to be highly weaponised. However, the law abiding do not do this…

This is obviously just a PR exercise for a failing government, just like they were in 1997 with the worthless, failed Pistols ban, with this, another prohibition that DELIBERATELY does not target criminals & should not be supported by other parties, or the government’s own MP’s.

Acids

The use of "any container designed or adapted to expel a noxious substance or any other thing" is already subject to a statutory mandatory minimum prison term of 5 years. This is part of the wording that prohibited Women’s Anti Rape Sprays in Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 and also covers drain cleaner or other liquids when used as a weapon.

So, the question should be, why are criminals not being prosecuted under this existing legislation for the mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison?

We know that there are several hundred million containers of acid knocking around the country and moving around the country at high speed all day every day (car / vehicle batteries) ...
So again acids are not a problem - criminals and a lazy criminal justice system are the problem.

Speaking of Women’s Anti Rape Sprays, these SHOULD be made legally available for purchase through the shops of Registered Firearms Dealers, which would allow the appropriate levels of control over their supply. As they are proven throughout the world to reduce attacks on women, thereby reducing crime. This could easily be appended to this bill.

Knives (a tool)

The knives this bill is re-banning, statistically do not feature in crime and are already prohibited...

Some clauses may affect tools with blades (knives) that are of safer designs for the user. This will impact knives used by Emergency Services personnel for rescues, Hikers, Mountaineers, Scouts, Campers, etc etc, whom all use various bladed tools as everyday tools and lifesaving tools, which again DON’T appear in crime. So, this will make society LESS SAFE due to more injuries to self being caused by less-safe tools of obsolete design.

The mail order prohibition element however will destroy the industry of UK custom knife makers and specialist suppliers, whilst not affecting overseas companies selling into the UK.

All reputable UK mail order specialists ALREADY check a purchasers age, prior to sale, as per CURRENT UK legislation.

In crime;

· The 4" kitchen knife is overwhelmingly the "weapon" of choice.

· The media now seem to be referring to any larger kitchen knife as a "machete"

· Kitchen knives are used in 90+% of attacks... This has not changed since the prohibitions of "throwing stars" & specialist martial arts sports equipment etc in the late 1980’s in more worthless legislation that has had ZERO effect on reducing crime.

Firearms

The Bill seeks to extend the prohibitions on possession of firearms to;

· "any rifle from which a shot, bullet, or other missile, with kinetic energy of more than 13,600 joules at the muzzle of the weapon, can be discharged" (this is 10,000ft/lbs)

· "any rifle with a chamber from which empty cartridge cases are extracted using

o I) energy from propellant gas, or

o Ii) energy imparted to a spring or other energy storage device by propellant gas,

Other than a rifle which is chambered for .22 rim-fire cartridges"

(Already effectively prohibited from ownership, import and useless on UK legal firearms)

· "any device (commonly known as a bump stock) which is designed or adapted so that –

o I) it is capable of forming part of or being added to a self-loading lethal barrelled weapon (as defined in section 5791b) and (2A)), and

o Ii) if it forms part of or is added to such a weapon, it increases the rate of fire of the weapon by using the recoil from the weapon to generate repeated pressure on the trigger…"

Events in other countries have been used as "justification" for prohibitions on things that are already prohibited in the UK, with some traditional persecution of the disabled "thrown in for good measure…"

I will cover the firearms prohibition as this will affect me due to the fact that the rifles to be prohibited, being highly specialised custom-built target rifles and the variants of the "MARS – Manually Actuated Release System" (finger bolt release) or "Lever Release System" (thumb bolt release) which were designed for the disabled such as myself and amputees. None of which are of interest to criminals.

I effectively fit both categories due to my limited and intermittent use of one side of my body due to a car crash caused by an unsecured load that was shed in front of me, nearly 4 years ago.

Therefore, any prohibition on the "MARS" or "Lever Release" system rifles will have a pronounced effect on disability access to the shooting sports for the disabled or amputees etc. Which therefore must be against anti-disability discrimination legislation.

In fact, amputees have been able to continue their shooting sports through the use of "MARS" of "Lever Release" type rifles being adapted for use from their wheelchairs through the addition of supports and mounting systems which have been fabricated for them, that the external design of some of these rifles lend themselves to through adaptions to their bodywork or stocks.

The proposer of the bill, who is the son of the proponent of the 1988 firearms prohibition, has called the "MARS" type rifles which were designed to assist the disabled, "fast firing" but obviously hasn’t quantified what is meant by the throwaway term "fast firing" with any valid data or statistics.

The 1988 Firearms Act, just like the 1997/8 Pistol prohibitions also discriminate against the disabled and elderly who require adapted or alternative systems to enable them to partake in their chosen sport.

The simple fact is, no matter what design parameters or the capabilities on paper or the engineering specifications of any rifle and its "action" or operating system, it is only ever going to be a constant value in aimed firing as used by strictly licenced Shooters. Therefore, no matter what "speed" the action may nominally "achieve", that is the lesser part of the equation, as the shooter needs to aim the rifle… That then cancels out any "speed differences" of the action’s design.

Thus, these are prohibitions on "ergonomics" in the basic design of these rifles that date from the 1950’s when compared with a late 1800s bolt action rifle design. The disabled should not be deliberately being prevented from taking advantage of 70-year-old ergonomics, when they are prohibited from modern sporting design ergonomics and operating systems by the 1988 prohibition act.

Maybe the proposer should just be honest and say that the Governmental & Civil Service elitists do not want the disabled to be taking part in an inclusive sport, or just that the current government see the disabled as "undesirables" or "second class citizens" which would be in keeping with their other actions against the disabled since they regained "power" recently.

The Shooting Sports are the most inclusive of all the sports due to the wide ranges of disciplines available under the umbrella of shooting and a specific attitude to make ALL disciplines accessible to ALL abilities as far as is Legally possible.

It is also worth bearing in mind that "civilian" Shooters encompass all backgrounds and also include retired emergency services and military personnel.

We successfully self-regulate even though the shooting sportsperson has been scapegoated for both the 1987 and 1997 atrocities that were 100% due to Police licencing management failing to apply the law as it stood at that time to both individuals concerned.

The attacker in Dunblane was a paid Police "informant on paedophiles" whom had been reported numerous times for being of "unsavoury" character and had previously threatened people with firearms, which SHOULD have resulted in custodial sentences. But as an "informant" he was "above the law" and had avoided previous criminal prosecutions due to being an "informant".

At Hungerford, it is publicly documented that a team of Anti-Terrorist CRW Wing SAS were passing by and offered their services to the Senior Police Officer, who told them "I am not handing this over to the army" and ordered them to leave the scene.

This was when the senior Police officer had no other capabilities and only 3 lives had been lost.

The senior Police Officer then requested an "Armoured Vehicle" be sent from Northern Ireland in order for the Police to make the arrest, with an 8-12-hour travel time… Bear in mind, who TRAINS the Armed / Tactical Police Officer… The SAS do…

Falsehoods have been deliberately told to Parliament to claim there is a "need" for a ban on firearms that have NEVER been used in crime and subsequently distributed to MP’s for their standardised replies to members of the public, who then repeat the falsehoods in their briefings to constituents in the replies…

I will explain why this ban is unnecessary.

First, when have you ever heard of a Legally Licenced DISABLED person going on a "drive by", a "wheelchair rampage" or anyone using a legally held .50" or antique rifle to shoot at the Police or ANYONE else? EXACTLY, it doesn’t happen… In fact, the Government haven’t been able to produce a single case of any offense with these firearms, but this is effectively what they allege.

The supposed single case of a .50" rifle being stolen, conveniently omits the fact that the rifle was incomplete and therefore inoperable (it is standard practice for parts to be separated in case of theft).

Criminals are the problem, whom have no problem getting their hands on anything they want and are happy to misuse illegal firearms and grenades as weapons against civilians and police etc...

The horrendously badly written October 2017 consultation says that the .50" rifle is a "materiel destruction" device… NOPE! This is a function of a prohibited type of projectile that is of NO use for target shooting sport due to its design, being made up of multiple components and is therefore inaccurate due to variable centre of gravity between projectiles, with no two being exactly the same…

That is not a particularly useful set of attributes when looking for uniformity and consistency when trying to remove all variables in ones performance in competition!

Legal, licenced Firearms bans.

Since the publication of the consultation, the basis of the bans and the "wish list" of what items they will encompass has changed dramatically, at effectively every meeting with the Home Office the range of items to be banned has expanded to include most shotguns, antiques, Olympic, hunting, custom built competition and pest control rifles and very expensive items that will be in the Queens firearms collection with the new proposal on maximum Muzzle Energy. None of these firearms are suited to criminal use.

These bans are targeted at Disabled, Legally Licenced Owners and these firearms have NEVER been used in crime.

Therefore it is impossible to quantify the levels of compensation that will be required as the figures in the October 2017 are wildly inaccurate.

The MARS Manual Actuated Release and Lever Release Systems were designed for the Disabled to enable people with damage to their hands through injuries / amputation / arthritis who otherwise cannot actuate a manual turn bolt to be able to maintain their sport.

Many of these rifles have been supplied to ex-military personnel whom have suffered amputations in the line of duty.

It is diabolical that the government would now target the disabled and tell blatant falsehoods to Parliament when questioned on their reasoning.

Advancement of Technological Development of Firearms Technology

Proposed prohibition of High muzzle energy long range target rifles. There is a niche sport of ELR - Extremely Long-Range target shooting, which takes tremendous dedication and massive amounts of funds in order to compete at the top levels. This niche competition provides a development forum for techniques, skills and technology that like other shooting sports are eventually borrowed and adapted for military and police use. Often this comes via the American USAMU – United States Army Marksmanship Unit, who see the value in recruiting champions to share their skills and adapt those developments to enhance the capabilities and survivability of the Warfighter.

Of late, the private British companies gas system design within the Disabled Lever Release rifle, has been included in the new Heckler & Koch 416 rifle that was designed for the American Special Forces Military Trials. We British still design world beating equipment. If this bill existed before the development of this system, then H&K would not have been able to borrow the recent concept and those Special Forces troops would have a lesser rifle to rely upon.


ELR Rifles (High Muzzle Energy Rifles in the bill)

Within this Bill it is proposed to ban the civilian possession of "any rifle from which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic energy of more than 13,600 joules at the muzzle of the weapon, can be discharged" ... i.e. anything with over 10,000 ft/lbs of muzzle energy.


For the appropriate competitions courses of fire over a 2-day match, may only total 20 - 30 shots fired whilst awaiting optimum environmental conditions and as the barrel will only have a lifespan of 250 - 500 rounds for some of the new cutting edge chamberings.

These chamberings may share a nominal bullet diameter, however the cases will often be optimised in different ways to get the best powder burn and must be squashed or drawn into custom shapes (wildcatting) and the necks of the cases will be turned on a lathe to reduce thickness to provide perfect concentricity with the bore in very tight chambers combined with a tighter bore. (If it were therefore possible to force a military standard projectile into these chambers, it would probably destroy the rifle and seriously injure the firer so no one would be stupid enough to attempt it)

Some competitors have even gone to the extent of having propellant powder manufacturers blend custom burning rates of powder as their cartridges are so far away from the normally expected chamberings in the civilian or military world worldwide, that the dynamics of the available powders are not suitable to these cutting edge designs.

The rifles are usually transported in at least 2 major parts and are rebuilt at the range due to the fact they can weigh around 30Kg - 60Kg when in their useable configuration. Barrels will often be between 38-42" long.

Often, they will be using a bespoke stock and supporting equipment that will be transported in a separate case or cases. The cost of one of these custom rifles should be expected to be between £12k to £60k+ with most of the appropriate accessories, many of which are custom built.

Just like the .50 calibre club starting in the 1980s and then those target rifles being copied by the military but in lighter, more compact & durable and substantially less accurate versions, this cutting edge competition will gradually filter back down to our military and this is technical development that should be encouraged as the advancements in projectile design, chamberings and barrel rifling technology is too "niche" to be researched by the military and this is where Sporting applications are a feeder for military adoption of related technology but heavily adapted to harsh environmental use that target rifles would never see and would stop working if they did!

As much a factor as anything else in the extended range competition is the shooters ability to "read the wind" and understand the environmental factors to perform the complex calculations required to get their Projectile somewhere in the area of the target which is usually a very large white painted target square due to the wide dispersion of these projectiles at those extended distances.

Criminals are unable to achieve any level of expertise with such bespoke specialist rifles and these rifles therefore are of no use to a criminal.

We see the term banded about of "materiel destruction". This is a falsehood as that is a function of specific designs of projectiles that are prohibited for civilian ownership and generally as these rifles are custom built with tight competition chambers and very fast twist rifling that is using a reduced bore diameter, no owner of these rifles would risk their own lives by attempting to chamber and fire such a incorrectly sized, prohibited projectile that would be torn apart by the centrifugal force in the fast twist tight rifling used for modern competition bullets, where military RAUFOSS projectiles may very possibly explode inside the competition (not military) barrel itself...

Supposedly the police representatives complain that civilians have them "outgunned" which is a blatant falsehood, when police have access to military firearms such as the SA80 and various other ultra - modern military firearms in their inventory.

Frankly, if the "Police representatives" see all these firearms on their ban-it wish list as specifically dangerous, then why haven’t they armed their officers with them??? Instead they choose the latest military or Anti – Terrorist specialised firearms…

Civilian owners of these rifles are of Zero threat to anyone. Even if such a rifle was stolen, it would not be possible to hide it or transport it and the level of practice required for a criminal to become proficient and understand the extended distance of its "zero" would have them caught in short order - these are very big, very heavy and extremely noisy rifles, that ammunition must be custom manufactured for with the bullets also being custom manufactured to order.

Lastly, on the subject of the 1997 full bore pistols ban, I met a gentleman last year who STILL has not received compensation for his property that was confiscated. His request to the home office are met with the reply that "all claims have been paid" when this is obviously not the case, I have since heard of many other people this applies to – so there are no final total for the costs of the 1997 ban as payments are still outstanding 20 years later.

So in summary, the government by introducing these bans with the stated goal of "reducing crime" is blatantly lying to Parliament (Mr Hogg has already had to retract falsehoods he has told to Parliament on this issue) and will have ZERO effect on reducing crime, which is something we ALL want to occur.

However it will penalise the disabled and those chasing a nearly impossible feat...

Maybe if Mr Hogg or his Police advisers actually want to reduce crime, then they would have legalised Anti Rape Sprays (as prohibited in 1968) and made them only available for sale through Registered Firearms Dealers who are held to high standards and have no interest in supplying criminals.

Criminals as you will be well aware have zero issues in obtaining any kind of device to use as a weapon such as kitchen knives and vehicles.

Air Rifle Licencing & A Legacy of Bad Police Licencing Management Throughout England

There is a separate bill on the licencing of Air Rifles.

Legally, an Air Rifle must have a maximum muzzle energy below 12ft lbs, Air Pistols must have a muzzle energy below 6 ft lbs and are frequently below 2 ft lbs muzzle energy.

There are tens of millions of air rifles throughout the country and the current licencing systems would not be able to support this level of expansion and periodic changes of address etc as the infrastructure does not exist.

Where this has become law in Scotland, it has been a complete disaster with most Air Rifles not being registered and an overstretched and understaffed Police Licencing Departments being unable to process the administration of licences for real firearms…

This is also a bad idea in England as my local Police Licencing Department still haven’t made the corrections to the "mistakes" that they deliberately made and refused to correct in 2007, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017…

They have only just supplied my European Firearms Pass in April 2018 that I have been requesting since 2003 to enable me to compete in international competition… This has been immediately sent back due to errors on the National Firearms Licencing Database that should have been corrected numerous times over a number of years in addition to the notifications supplied when I purchased the specific items, yet errors still have not been corrected…

My current Licences are clones of the previous ones that expired last May and are strewn with the same errors from a February 2016 reprint that should been corrected numerous times before and again last May which omits a large number of changes made in December 2014…

My complaints about the criminal actions of licencing staff who carry warrant cards, have been "ignored" or "covered up" that include theft and assault as well as a campaign of bullying.

The Police management of Firearms Licencing is haphazard and strewn with a constant history of bad performance. Every region throughout the UK has its own licencing department that sings to its own tune and own political (bullying) attitudes, that do not follow existing law, so there is no national consistency, it is effectively a "postcode lottery" and should be scrapped and replaced with a single national body based upon the DVLA for example with licences being an encrypted smart card that would link to a central database and to all dealers. This is a very simple system to implement and would remove the manual aspect of typing in data repetitively for the clerks.

The smart card system would work as follows,

The importer imports the firearm and enters it on to their import database. This is then synchronised with the central "DVLA" database.

When the firearm goes to the Proof House, they check the details and add the date the firearm passed or failed the Proofing Tests to the "DVLA" database.

The firearm goes to a dealer via a shipping agent who scans the bar code and unique code for that firearm which shows the shipping agent has possession of it in real time on the "DVLA" database.

The firearm arrives at the shop or dealer who logs it with their barcode scanner into their own system which immediately links to the central "DVLA" database and updates the location of that firearm.

The dealer sells the firearm to a licence holder. They scan the smart card-based licence with the licence holder inputting a password or pin code which unlocks access to their records on the dealers’ system and it now updates the central records. The licence holder also buys ammunition at the same time and this follows the same procedure.

To purchase the firearm, the licence holder has already been approved for that type and calibre as at present. When the owner sells the firearm, the authority is automatically opened up again for them to replace it.

This is simpler and substantially more cost effective than the current paper-based system.

The Driving Licence concept provides an excellent basis for this system.

Thank you for your time,

I hope you are able to address this mess of a bill of prohibitions affecting the law abiding, that will have zero effect on reduction of crime, as has been proven so many times in the past.

Kind regards

Earl Williamson

September 2018

 

Prepared 11th September 2018