Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Roger Ellis (OWB190)

I wish to submit the following comments against some of the amendments proposed to the Offensive Weapons Bill 2018.

NC-7

This would restrict any possession of an air weapon by a juvenile to membership of a club approved by the Home Secretary (the act refers explicitly to "approved" clubs - not a loose reference to "sporting club" activity).

It would prevent a juvenile from receiving instruction at home from a parent on the use of an air gun (the Act refers to "premises" - not "land").   It also means that "informal" airgun clubs (such as are operated by youth clubs and Scout groups) would no longer be permitted to operate.

In my opinion such a restriction is wholly disproportionate given the absence of abuse and the public benefit currently provided by the operation of such informal clubs.   

NC-9

This would prevent the importation of firearms by Registered Firearms Dealers (and by private individuals who possess Shotgun and Firearms Certificates).   It would also seem to have the effect of prohibiting the importation of domestic cutlery from anywhere in the world except the EU.  

It is difficult to comprehend the logic (as to why importation from a non-EU country is more undesirable than from an EU country).   

NC-12

1) Why limit it to websites (why not also newspapers) ?

2) Almost any weapon is capable of being disguised as something else.   Surely what matters is whether such a weapon is actually disguised.      Who would adjudicate as to whether a weapon is capable of being disguised when it is not actually disguised ?

NC-13

There are thousands of Hollywood films and television shows already released in which a villain behaves in this way - many of John Wayne's films include such scenes.   This would seem to prohibit the public viewing of such films.

As drafted I do not believe this would be credible or enforceable. 

NC-11

This seems to make it an offence for a shop to display scissors and domestic cutlery unless a government minister creates regulations to make it legal !

As drafted I do not think this is credible or proportionate.  

NC-19

This would prevent the operation of miniature ranges in fairgrounds and a large number of well-run miniature rifle clubs.

There have been almost no criminal convictions arising from this exemption since 1968 so there does not seem to be a problem with the Act as now drafted and operated.   I believe the deletion of subsection 4 of section 1 would be disproportionate.  

NC-21

I believe the creation of a Firearms Advisory Committee would be a good step (the previous Firearms Consultative Committee should not have been abolished in the first place).  

  

NC-22

It is already illegal for a person to hand-load ammunition for which they have no lawful authority to possess.  

Hand loading of ammunition is common amongst holders of FACs and SGCs (who, obviously, do have lawful authority to possess the resultant ammunition).    It is not clear whether this is intended to prohibit FAC and SGC holders from hand-loading.  If so it is un-necessary and grossly disproportionate.       

   

NC-23 and NC-24

This is not necessary.  An antique firearm is already a firearm. 

Possession of an antique firearm for any purpose other than "as a curiosity or ornament" already requires authority by SGC, FAC or RFD as if it were a modern firearm.   Possession in any of the circumstances listed in the clause would already be treated as falling outside the scope of possession as a curiosity or ornament.

NC-26

I believe this is disproportionate for the huge majority of purchases of antiques, not least because it cannot be enforced for private sales. 

NC-27

1) An antique firearm cannot, by definition, be "manufactured".   An artefact becomes an antique only by the passage of time.

2) It is difficult to comprehend how the introduction of such a bureaucracy would increase public safety (given that private sales are not included - nor enforceable even if they were)

NC-28

It is difficult to follow the logic behind this amendment.

Many shotgun certificate holders do not possess a FAC and have no need for one.    Is the reference to an FAC (rather than an SGC) a drafting error ??

NC-29

This seems to be a proposal to render firearms de-activated before the introduction of the EU directive "illegal".   At the moment such deactivated firearms may continue to be legally possessed without further modification until or unless they are "placed on the market" – at which point further modification may be required (depending on the detailed nature of the original method of deactivation) and re-certification against the EU standard will be required.  

If that is the intent I believe it is disproportionate having regard to the very low level of successful re-activation of such deactivated firearms in the UK.  

September 2018

 

Prepared 12th September 2018