Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Bruce McPherson (OWB37)

My name is Bruce McPherson.  I am the holder of a Forearms Certificate, Shotgun Certificate and an Air Weapons licence (as required by law in Scotland)

I have been shooting for more than 40 years and wish to make a submission regarding  the proposal to re-classify certain types of firearms as "prohibited weapons" thus putting them into section 5 of the Firearms Act.

There is no evidence of either 50 cal (being the principal casualty of the proposed muzzle energy limit) or MARS type rifles ever having been used in any crime in the UK.

The IRA possessed and used 50 cal rifles during the "troubles" in Northern Ireland, yet they were not prohibited.

We clearly face an ongoing threat from terrorism, but that was also the case when the IRA operated on the UK mainland, and I would argue, the IRA were far better armed and a far more efficient organisation than the current "lone wolf" type of terrorist whose primary weapons appear to knifes and motor vehicles.

The UK has, quite correctly in my opinion, some of the toughest gun laws in the world and, given the very small number of crimes committed using legally held weapons, these laws clearly work.  There is simply no need for any further extension of the present regime.

Statistically, gun owners in the UK are one of the most law abiding groups in our society, and one of the main reasons for that is that they have had to pass the severe tests involved in obtaining a Firearms or Shotgun certificate and know that even a minor brush with the Police may well result in their certificate(s) being revoked.

In my experience of over 40 years shooting, certificate holders are very aware of the duties and responsibilities placed on them by virtue of being granted an FAC or SGC. 

There are several shooting forums based in the UK and my experience of these forums is that there is  no tolerance for anyone who openly flouts firearms law and a great deal of advice and support given to those who may be new to shooting and are unsure of the finer points of firearms law.

As has been the case in the past, such as with the handgun ban, legally held guns were removed from circulation, but the number of illegally held guns increased and the crimes committed with them increased accordingly.

According to the "Offenses involving a firearm" statistics for 2017, there were 2685 offences involving a handgun and only 61 offences involving a rifle

Criminals don't like rifles - they're big, heavy and difficult to conceal

Quite simply, the Police and Home Office should be looking at the major problems caused by thousand of illegally held firearms rather than focussing on this very very minor issue involving 200 or so 50 cal rifles and Mars rifles

Thank you for the opportunity to comment

Regards

Bruce McPherson

July 2018

 

Prepared 17th July 2018