Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Steven Macleod (OWB39)

I am writing to you about the Proposed Offensive Weapons Bill, to express my sincere disappointment this legislative change is still being pushed through without any empirical evidence that the additional firearms restrictions contained within the bill will do anything to increase public safety.

The Government has been unable to provide a single piece of evidence to justify these further restrictions, instead relying on emotive and plainly false language within the structure of the bill itself - i.e. calling .50cal rifles ‘material destruction’ devices, when a rifle simply cannot be such a thing. The term "material destruction" relates to the type of ammunition used, all of which are quite rightly prohibited under section 5 of the Firearms Act. Evidence has been presented to the HO by the UK Fifty Cal Shooting Association (UK FCSA) regarding the type of ammunition available to the public for .50cal Target Rifles which clearly demonstrates that the ball ammunition they use is designed only for target use at long distances, and will effectively ‘splatter’ on impact. Would it be lethal to a human without body armour, of course, as would any type of ammunition available to approved FAC holders, however to claim it is any more lethal than say a 9mm, .223 or .308 is factually incorrect. I did note that this statement was corrected in the consultation review document, however I am yet to see this has been corrected in any reading in the House.

In relation to the removal of certain "rapid-fire" rifles such as the MARS (Manually Activated Release System) firearms, the HO ‘evidence’ is based on conjecture, not fact. If you would be kind enough to read the letter I have attached from the manufacturer of said firearm, they are clearly confirming that this type of firearm is not a prohibited Semi-Automatic rifle, which the general public of the UK are restricted from owning following the reactionary amendments brought in to law in 1988 after the Hungerford tragedy. I must also raise a concern on the language used, as whilst the focus has been on the MARS rifles, the term "rapid firing" could very easily be turned to apply to the British made lever release rifles from the Southern Gun Company, classic Lee Enfield WW2 rifles which were known for their ability to be used at a faster rate than their German or Russian counterparts, and of course the classic Western under-lever rifle. The overall language used throughout the bill leaves too many doors open to place more restrictions on almost all other types and models of firearms used by UK target shooters in the future at the whim of whichever political party holds power at the time.

I would also take this opportunity to remind you, and the Home Office, that 78% of respondents to the consultation objected to these further restrictions, yet those results are being ignored, along with all the evidence disclaiming the proposals presented by both the UK FCSA and other UK Shooting governing bodies. The make-up of that 78% was not just members of the UK shooting community, but general members of the public who see this measure for what it is – a sham. The proposal is clearly a smokescreen to make it appear like the Home Office is doing something about rising gun crime, without actually doing anything to tackle the source of the problem.

These additional firearms restrictions should be removed from this bill on Acid and Knife crime, so it may be debated sensibly, separately and without prejudice, with actual evidence behind it presented to the house. My absolute worry is that this legislation will be railroaded through without proper debate because it is attached to the bill restricting the sale and possession of acids and corrosive substances which is a highly emotive subject. I would doubt that anyone in the UK shooting community wants to see that part of the bill fail, but we cannot sit idly by and watch the tools of our sport be subjected to further restrictions when there is zero evidence that the rifles called out in this bill have ever been used in crime, or when the reasoning behind the bill is based on "What-If’s". To class them as weapons is fundamentally incorrect, and belies the ignorance of the person who brought this bill to the house. A cricket bat is just a sporting implement, unless it is used to hit someone – then it becomes a weapon. A truck is a means to transport goods from A to B, unless it is driven into a crowd of people – then it becomes a weapon. A firearm is a tool to put a projectile onto a target at varying distances, testing the persons skill and self-control, unless it is pointed at someone – then it becomes a weapon.

We FAC holders in the UK understand our responsibilities and take them very seriously. I understand that my grant of an FAC is considered a privilege, not a right – even though the original British Bill of Rights states otherwise – and this naturally lends us to be some of THE most law-abiding citizens of this land. We do not deserve this level of victimisation, discrimination and criminalisation. There are over 150k FAC holders in the UK and over 500k SGC holders. We are small in numbers, but we are all citizens and we deserve to be treated with the same respect and parity as other minority interest groups in this country. We are not the problem, and restricting our ability to enjoy our sport will not bring any additional safety and security to the British public.

10 July 2018

 

Prepared 17th July 2018