Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Adrian Hodgson (OWB46)

I write in a personal capacity in particular in the hope of removal of articles 28-35 inclusive of chapter 6 Offensive Weapons Bill 2017-19 (HC Bill 232) These clauses in the Bill seek to make certain firearms illegal. This is wholly unnecessary with the robust firearms licensing that is implemented in the UK to protect public safety. None of the equipment contained in these clauses have ever been used in a crime on UK soil.

Since the handgun ban in 1997, lawful firearms shooters at Home Office Approved clubs have not been able to use such items however the career criminals easily procure these items for their illegal activities.

Further firearms restrictions proposed in this bill are not the prudent way forward in tackling the root causes of crime and will have zero effect on the reduction of violent crime in the UK. The Government need a holistic approach to education, welfare and policing, which in time will yield lower crime statistics nationally. This is where policy should be concentrated.

Shooting is a major sporting activity in the UK with some 2.25 million rifles and shotguns legally held on certificate. Certificate holders are rigorously assessed by the police and are subjected to medical assessments, references, background checks and ongoing continuous monitoring.

The Bill seeks to prohibit two specific groups (high muzzle energy and "rapid firing") of rifles; this affects some 1,000 or so firearms out of the 2.25 million held on certificate.

The shooting community views these prohibitions as a gross breach of natural justice as the Home Office has failed to provide any evidence that these rifles pose any risk to public safety. They referred to vague concerns raised by the police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) but have never published details.

To link civilian target shooters to gun crime is grossly misleading; pistols, illegal in the UK since 1997, remain the weapons of choice for the criminal fraternity.

There are three key points to the shooting community’s objections:-

· No legally owned rifle of the types to be prohibited has  ever  been used in criminal activity despite being used by target shooters for many decades.

· The Home Office have providing misleading references by linking the rifles to be prohibited to shooting events in the USA; they quote the Las Vegas shooting despite the fact that the semi-automatic firearms used there were prohibited in the UK in 1988.

· Current legislation (Section 27 Firearms Act 1968 as amended) 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 …"

We feel the prohibition is a token attempt to distract attention away from the serious matters of illegal firearms, acid and knife crime. To ban certain firearms on the basis of unsubstantiated claims of threats to public safety is unconstitutional and an abuse of process.

The capacity for firearms to cause harm is subjective; almost all modern cars have the capacity to substantially exceed the legal speed limit but the licensed driver is responsible for driving safely.

We urge careful scrutiny of the proposals to prohibit these firearms, interrogating the claimed enhancements to public safety and challenging the risk assessments produced but not published by the NCA.

This legislation will only ever hurt law abiding citizens.

You may not agree with or wish to take part in this sport but to allow the Government free reign to ban without evidence is a miscarriage of justice and the freedoms we enjoy as citizens.

Kind regards

Adrian Hodgson L.LM MNI

July 2018

 

Prepared 17th July 2018