Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by John L Harvey (OWB99)




That there is no evidence to support the proposed ban of Southern Gun Company (SGC) lever release rifles in pistol calibres.


Who am I


I am an experienced shooter who has been a license holder for over 40 years.


I have been a local government officer since 1979 and have held politically restricted posts for much of that time.


I therefore have the benefit of both understanding the subject and how the democratic process of decision making works


My concerns


Whilst appreciating that the proposed legislation could affect three different firearms types (50 cal, MARS lever release and SGC lever release rifles), I will confine my response to SGC rifles only.


I maintain that the SGC lever release rifles need to be considered separately to their MARS equivalents due to their much lower muzzle energy and therefore that they should be considered as a pistol calibre carbine


Following the introduction of the Firearms Act 1997, which effectively prohibited legal pistol ownership in this country, many shooters and ranges adapted to use lower powered pistol calibre rifles that could utilise the same infrastructure and allowed target shooting to continue.


In this context, the Act of 1997 was a success by meeting its objective of removing all legally held pistols (firearms with an overall length of less than 602mm).


Despite losing a number of sportsmen and women, those that continued were able to participate in a number of adapted shooting disciplines using these pistol calibre rifles.


Most pistol calibre rifles are based on designs by John Browning which are perhaps best described as cowboy lever action rifles. Whilst this design is effective and aesthetically pleasing, it is limited in its adaptability for things like sights, grips and disabled modification.


The AR (Armalite Rifle) platform from the 1960s is however a popular design which has been developed over recent decades to provide the ultimate adaptable rifle which has almost unlimited accessories which make it a perfect basis upon which to create a competition rifle for civilian use within the current Firearms Act.


Southern Gun Company (SGC) have invested considerably in the design and development of their lever release rifle that enables shooters to compete alongside traditional lever action rifles within the restrictions of the pistol calibre ranges. The SGC lever release rifle is NOT available in rifle calibres and offers no more threat to public safety than these other rifles.


Due to the design of the AR platform, a lever cannot be operated below the rifle and the unique blow back and lever release was developed.


There is no evidence to support the notion that an SGC lever release rifle can be operated any faster than a comparable lever action rifle. Indeed, due to the unusual design, anyone unfamiliar with these rifles is unlikely to operate them at anything approaching "rapid"


The evidence to support the ban of SGC lever release rifles


There isn’t any.


I believe that the current proposals are the result of a few individuals who have a dislike of the design and are seeking to use the current proposed legislation as a way to implement an illogical and unnecessary prohibition


Effect of the proposals if implemented


As a member of shooting associations and gun clubs, I have held many discussions with owners of SGC lever release rifles.


It is the inevitable effect of any ban that these rifles would be removed from civilian ownership. Furthermore, as demand would be non-existent, they simply wouldn’t be manufactured.


If the proposals were implemented, there would be no effect on public safety as I maintain these rifles pose no additional threat over any other civilian held firearm. In rare instances where legal firearms fall into the wrong hands, an SGC lever release is more likely to confuse rather than assist.


In terms of what civilian owners would do if these rifles are prohibited. My anecdotal evidence of conversations indicates that many will simply take the compensation and reinvest in another firearm or perhaps two. This is based on the SGC lever release rifles being towards the expensive end of the market and it being possible to afford two replacements, providing of course that good reason can be demonstrated for each.


The cost


I would respectfully ask that the Impact Assessment for the proposals be revisited as soon as possible as the calculations of cost are currently based on the original proposal which was to affect MARS and 50cal only.


Not only has the cost of the additional SGC lever release rifles compensation to be added, but I believe they are the only pistol calibre rifles to use the smaller cartridges of 9mm and 45acp. This means that all ancillary equipment will be obsolete and in the same way as the Act in 1997 covered extra items, I would suggest that there will be considerable additional costs (magazines, ammunition, calibre specific reloading equipment, sights, grips, tools etc).


The impact


As covered above, the effect of the prohibition of SGC lever release rifles will be nothing in terms of public safety.


The proposals will not remove any firearms that are rapid firing as there is no evidence to support that description.


For many law abiding civilian shooters this will be their third confiscation of property by their government. By definition, this sector of society will comply fully with whatever legislation is introduced.


All I ask is that you consider carefully whether there is really any evidence to support the inclusion of SGC lever release rifles in this proposal.

Thank you for your time in reading this submission.

July 2018


Prepared 23rd July 2018