Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Mr Declan Mouland (OWB54)

Before I begin, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Declan Mouland and am a registered firearms dealer in Sussex. I have been shooting since 7 years of age and I’m also a firearms certificate and shotgun certificate owner. I attended: Plumpton Collection and passed a NVQ 1 in Agriculture, I also passed a 2 year National diploma in Game management at Triple distinction level, I also attended Plumpton college to study a foundation science degree in countryside management. During this time I obtained additional certification for safe shooting, meat hygiene, firearms training and deer stalking. I am happy to provide credentials upon request.

Below are my experienced opinions based on evidence, please bear with my examples and read on with interest:

A brief look at previous firearms laws and their effectiveness... going back to 1997, a firearms amendment was created that restricted the ownership of handguns to section 5 and humane dispatch only, removing them from the hands of what must be 90% of previous owners.. yet in 2001 handgun crime was 40% higher than 1996, statistics provided by the BBC in a 2001 article. A point to begin with that shows that the lawful ownership of firearms is not related to the crime committed by unlicensed criminals...with less of these types of guns in civilians hands, how did these criminals come into the possession of ‘’banned list’’ firearms like they still do today? The obvious answer would be: Not through legal channels....cause may be any of the following: illegal importing/smuggling of firearms/gang gun running, the illegal conversion of replica firearms, underground smithing and engineering of firearms using relevant materials and equipment, even 3D printing....

Today handgun crime, as you know, is still high, especially in the London area... This all directly relates to your current propositions to changes in legislation, in one way, in another it doesn’t... allow me to explain: It relates because it shows that these type of laws do not effect the criminal activity, but do effect the law abiding community... those that suffered during the handgun ‘’ban’’; Professional competition shooters including our UK Olymics team, recreational non-harmful users (thousands of people that did not offend, ever).

Therefore in this respect, how does one expect this kind of legislation to work when applied to ‘’high powered’’ firearms and the ‘’mars actions’’ ‘’bump stocks’’ etc etc? It will not.

But now let’s look at how it doesn’t related and therefore should not even be considered being made legislation. Handguns were moved to section 5 due to a high level of handgun crime and the hope that this law would prevent illegal handgun crime.... There is no level of crime or evidence in the UK, involving high power firearms such as 50 calibre firearms... what evidence is there of criminals using 50calibre rifles in England, Wales and Scotland? How many recorded incidents have there been in the theft of these rifles? And finally, how many of these are in legal circulation? There are over 700,000 licensed UK firearms and shotgun users, now my personal estimation from experience is that less than 200 of these licensed persons will own such a firearm....firstly the range they require is huge and very limited location wise, they can only be used on a range and not for hunting in the UK. The security requirements means they are stored securely out of unauthorised reach and would require much criminal knowledge of the persons home and security details, to be able to steal such a firearm. The term ‘’well, what if’’ could be used in any scenario regarding anything and is simply not a good enough defence for the proposed ban of these firearms. What if someone steals my car and runs over twenty innocent civilians? We do not ban cars for this purpose, they are simply licensed and we do what we can to keep them aware from unauthorised owners. Same as the national speed limit is 70mph, yet we still allow the production and UK sale of vehicles that go well over this limit.... Seems rather hypocritical.  Perhaps you see this as irrelevant...but there are millions of vehicles in the UK, drink driving and dangerous driving and purposeful murders caused via driving have killed more people in the UK than incidents involving stolen licensed firearms...by a huge percentage.

Let us move into the region of semi-automatics....all semi-automatics other than those in .22 rimfire calibre and shotguns were moved to section 5 in 1988 under a firearms amendment to the 1968 act...enforcing such a law with one very similar is very much a waste of parliament time and tax payers money for that time. Actions such as mars actions do not firearms as quickly as a semi-automatic can and useful for those licensed holders that may have a disability making the use of a usual straight pull rifle in calibre above 22rimfire, very difficult. I will again point out, that not a single Mars action rifle has been used for a crime in the UK and no evidence or statistics show otherwise.

‘’Bump stocks’’ I feel the terms is one of media frenzy and does not relate to the UK...these are used a lot in the USA and these are made for use on semi-automatic rifles... We banned semi-automatic rifles in 1988 as already discussed, now only having .22 rimfires in that action. A bump-fire stock usually requires recoil to function properly. .22 rimfires have zero recoil. Once again, a waste of tax payers money in discussing and even debating this in parliament, it is completely irrelevant. Once again, there is no scrap of evidence or statistics to show that these stocks have ever been used in the UK in an illegal capacity. To add to this, I do not know of and have ever known of anyone at all in the UK shooting community that uses one of these stock additions.  

The proposed ban of the online sale of knives..... where to begin...

Another piece of legislation that will have zero effect on knife crime. The vast majority of knives in the UK are bought for: Cooking, fishing, camping, countryside/sporting and hunting/shooting purposes.

There are a variety of reasons that someone that fits into the above category would buy a knife online.... first and foremost, such person may live in a remote location away from shops and online may be the only way to get one shipped/delivered to them. Secondly availability, a persons local shop may not have this particular knife and may not be able to order in this knife through that sore, online provides a variety of choice for the job it is needed for. Thirdly price, a local shop may be charging an excessive sum for the same knife you could get from an online source for less money and thus is the reason for economics, business competition etc. Fourth jobs, there are many UK online only shops for knives and this is a livelihood for many...there are even actual shops that may sell far more knives online in comparison to in store...this could be a camping shop, a fishing shop, a registered firearms dealers or similar. Lastly shop stock, in this day and age many shops....be it online or high street store, have online facilities to buy from suppliers... would this ban also prevent the simple use of this modern technology to make stock orders? It is still ordering online after all. Or would such legislation let certain official business’s order online? If so, what falls into such a category? Do they have to be an LTD company and show evidence of owning a related shop? What about a registered firearms dealer that is just a sole trader and deals from home, gets visitors by appointment? If this were such a case where the official LTD company could order stock online  but not the home-based registered firearms dealer, why? If a registered firearms dealer is trusted to order guns online from a supplier, why not knives? What qualifies an LTD company with an open shop to make these online orders? Would the vetted at-home firearms dealer not be more qualified and certified safe having been police and medically vetted as such?

As you can see, such legislation opens many avenues of more questions, including being open to discrimination and unrest regarding this.

I would finally like to add on this particular subject that knife crime is based around the individual type...much similar to the illegal firearms user. What stops a criminal simply using a knife from home? From a hardware shop or shop generally? Getting a friend to buy said knife for them? Sharpening a screw driver or similar on a grinder (just as deadly)? Look at the making a home built ‘’shivs’’ in prison for prison stabbings (metal, glass, anything sharp)....a prison is supposedly a secure facility with no illegal weapons or drugs...but we all know there are cases of this. So when put in this manner, if we cannot stop stabbings in a secure facility like a prison where criminals are put...how is the banning of online knife sales going to prevent knife crime?

I would like to thank you for your time and I do hope that this is read and taken into serious consideration. I could have added more but feel I have written enough to put across my professional opinion. I would like to think that parliament makes the correct choice.

Yours sincerely

Mr Declan Mouland

10 July 2018

 

Prepared 17th July 2018