Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Dr Tom Walker (OWB96)

I am writing to comment on the Offensive Weapons Bill.

Home delivery of knives

This is short sighted. The majority of knives used are domestic kitchen knifes[1] and the definition of what is a 'knife' or bladed weapon is unclear when looking at the Criminal Justice Act 1988. A fishing knife is intended for fishing, so it is not intended to be a weapon. Equally, a knitting needle is not intended to be a weapon but unfortunately a murder was committed with one[2] and can be viewed as an "article with blade or point" as defined by the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Would there be a ban on the home delivery of knitting needles?

It would seriously impact many thousands tradesmen across the country. Online retail is growing extremely fast and this would prevent tradesmen from ordering certain tools online, hampering their ability to shop for the lowest price. Amateur knitters too!

Lastly, if a knife is used for a crime that was purchased online then it provides proof of purchase and gives an evidence base. 

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1022734/Kitchen-knives-common-stabbing-weapon-police-reveal-haul-200-weapons-seized-blitz.html

[2] http://www.itv.com/news/west/update/2015-06-23/breaking-son-who-stabbed-mother-with-knitting-needle-found-guilty/

Firearms: Bump stocks

Bump stocks are used on semi-automatic, high muzzle energy rifles with the intended use of making them fully automatic. High muzzle energy semi automatic rifles are banned in the UK. This is pointless and simply playing to the gallery. You would be banning something that may not be legally used. 

Banning the use of rocket launchers on any attack helicopters owned and used in the UK by British citizens would be similarly pointless.

Firearms: High Muzzle energy rifles

The impact assessment document states that "they are also designed to be able to penetrate armour worn by soldiers". The use of armour piercing ammunition is already prohibited under Section 5(1A)(e):

any ammunition for military use which consists of, or incorporates, a missile designed, on account of its having a jacket and hard core, to penetrate armour plating, armour screening or body armour, e.g. armour piercing ammunition; 

Stating that the rifle is designed to penetrate armour is misleading as other standard calibres can use ammunition that will do this too. NATO M995 5.56×45mm ammunition is an armour piercing round and used in a small calibre round [1] and 5.56×45mm, in metric .223, is a commonly held calibre in the UK for the lawful shooting of vermin. Armour piercing rounds exist for other common UK hunting calibres but are already illegal to use under existing laws.

I note that the assessment document states "If these rifles were used in a criminal capacity" as there has been no known case of a high muzzle energy rifle being used for criminal purposes. The most common firearm used for crime is a handgun which has been banned for a long time. Large calibre rifles are used by sportsmen for long range target shooting. This is a sport with a heritage spanning hundreds of years. I note that the impact document does not take into account the historical or cultural significance of the sport.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.56%C3%9745mm_NATO#United_States

Firearms: Manually actuated release system (MARS)

The impact document states "the Manually actuated release system rifle can discharge rounds at a much faster rate than conventional bolt-action rifles due to their firing system and are therefore closer to self-loading rifles".

A side by side shotgun can fire two rounds faster than a single shot shotgun. Using the above logic, a side by side is closer to a self-loading shotgun. A semi-automatic shotgun can fire 3 shotgun rounds even quicker. There is not a continuum between self-loading and non self-loading. A MARS rifle if legal. This bill is trying to define a non existing half way house between bolt action and self loading firearm bullet chambering mechanisms. If the MARS mechanism was banned, a similar mechanism could be created which gives the same practical outcome but is still manually operated. To try and blanket ban the principle (faster than bolt action, but slower than semi automatic) is pointless as operator speed comes into it as well. There are likely people out there that can operate a bolt action rifle faster than some soldiers with a semi automatic rifle.

Like high muzzle energy rifles, there have been no cases of violent crimes using MARS rifles.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Walker

July 2018

 

Prepared 23rd July 2018