Call to Action: Offensive Weapons Bill (Gun Ban)

As I am sure everyone is rapidly becoming aware, the Government has announced the Offensive Weapons Bill. This is the bill that was consulted on last year which included proposals to restrict .50 calibre and certain “rapid firing” rifles – essentially MARS/ Lever release type rifles.

In our opinion this Bill certainly took advantage of the recent media coverage of acid attacks in the UK. It then lumped in proposed restrictions on online knife sales and legal firearms to this unrelated subject. The actual restrictions on acids are little more than lip service and I believe the real focus was on pushing through more gun control.

This Bill is particularly concerning it’s justified not because of misuse of such firearms but because “they potentially could be misused.” I would ask everyone to consider this for a moment and the dangerous precedent it sets to not only firearms enthusiasts but to the basic ideals of liberty, freedom and presumption of innocence. Would you take someone’s car because it could go over the speed limit? Would you place someone on the sex offenders register because they in theory are capable of committing an offence?

If such draconian policy were directed towards any other member of society there would be national outrage. We are seeing a steady erosion of freedom in this country and not for the first time fear of terrorism and crime is being used as the catalyst.

This needs to be the time that every firearms enthusiast or liberty minded individual across the country unites and draws a line in the sand. We are at the edge of a precipice where vague terms such as “particularly high powered” and “fast firing” are used to describe firearms that have never been used in crime. Terms used to evoke fear and hysteria from the public into thinking the Government is making them safer whilst totally ignoring the root causes of crime and violence.

It’s time to lose the “I’m alright Jack” attitude that some of those who take part in shooting seem to take on. Do you really think that if this goes through your stalking rifle, semi-auto shotgun, lever action rifle or even your 12 bore over under could not be described by one of these terms? Gun control organisations have previously described shotguns as “weapons of mass destruction.” Do you really believe after all we have seen you will not be sacrificed for political capital or agendas? It’s just a matter of time.

Affected Firearms:

  • .50 Calibre BMG rifles
  • MARS Rifles
  • Lever Release (not lever-action)

Please bear in mind the wording can be rather vague in places and the slope is a slippery one. If it doesn’t affect you currently, it’s only a matter of time before it does.

A DETAILED LOOK AT THE BILL

The Bill will ban the following by making them section 5 (prohibited):

  • Rifles with a muzzle energy greater than 13,600J (10,030 Ft-lb approx)
  • Rifles capable of self ejecting spent cartridges (other than .22rf)
  • Bump stocks

28 Prohibition of certain firearms etc: England and Wales and Scotland

(1)The Firearms Act 1968 is amended as follows.

(2)In section 5 (weapons subject to general prohibition), in subsection (1), after 
25paragraph (af) insert—

(ag)any rifle from which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic 
energy of more than 13,600 joules at the muzzle of the weapon, 
can be discharged;

(ah)any rifle with a chamber from which empty cartridge cases are 
30extracted using—

(i)energy from propellant gas, or

(ii)energy imparted to a spring or other energy storage 
device by propellant gas,

other than a rifle which is chambered for .22 rim-fire 
35cartridges;”.

(3)In section 5(1), for the “and” at the end of paragraph (b) substitute—

(ba)any device (commonly known as a bump stock) which is 
designed or adapted so that—

(i)it is capable of forming part of or being added to a self-
40loading lethal barrelled weapon (as defined in section 
57(1B) and (2A)), and

(ii)if it forms part of or is added to such a weapon, it 
increases the rate of fire of the weapon by using the 
recoil from the weapon to generate repeated pressure on 
45the trigger; and”.

 

This will also affect Northern Ireland:

29 Prohibition of certain firearms etc: Northern Ireland

(1)The Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (SI 2004/702 (NI 3)SI 2004/702 (NI 3)) is amended 
as follows.

(2)In Article 45 (weapons subject to general prohibition), in paragraph (1), after 
sub-paragraph (e) insert—

(ea)25any rifle from which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic 
energy of more than 13,600 joules at the muzzle of the weapon, 
can be discharged;

(eb)any rifle with a chamber from which empty cartridge cases are 
extracted using—

(i)30energy from propellant gas, or

(ii)energy imparted to a spring or other energy storage 
device by propellant gas,

other than a rifle which is chambered for .22 rimfire cartridges;”.

(3)In Article 45(1), for the “and” at the end of sub-paragraph (f) substitute—

(fa)35any device (commonly known as a bump stock) which is 
designed or adapted so that—

(i)it is capable of forming part of or being added to a self-
loading firearm, and

(ii)if it forms part of or is added to such a firearm, it 
40increases the rate of fire of the firearm by using the recoil 
from the firearm to generate repeated pressure on the 
trigger; and”.

THE FACTS

There have been no crimes committed with a .50 calibre rifle. It is our understanding that there is one which was stolen and subsequently recovered very quickly.

MARS and lever release rifles are often used by those with disabilities, providing an easier solution. As far as we are aware these have also had zero crimes linked to them.

The claim that this is to prevent terrorists or criminals gaining access to the firearms is dubious as during the troubles the IRA smuggled in .50 calibre rifles from abroad, in various terrorist attacks in France, attackers used fully automatic rifles smuggled in from abroad. France is also a Nation where you can legally own semi-automatic rifles. However, criminals and terrorists do not take the risk of going through the legal application process or stealing from legal owners.

Northern Ireland still maintain handgun ownership and it is largely recognised that legally owned firearms are not a source of arms for terrorist or paramilitary organisations.

Although .50 calibre rifles do have an extended range compared to some rifles that does not mean that anyone can pick one up and shoot one at these ranges. They require a lot of skill, experience and training. Plus they are incredibly cumbersome.

The idea that rate of fire of firearms drastically increases their lethality is misleading, this is something that would again depend on ability of the person holding the firearm not the firearm itself.

The following excerpts are taken from Consultation on new legislation on offensive and dangerous weapons: Summary of Consultation Responses by Home Office published on 20/06/2018:

78% of the online responses who responded to the question opposed the prohibition of large calibre rifles and rapid firing rifles, along with a majority of the email and postal responses received. A large number of the responses received opposing these changes cited the lack of any evidence that these particular weapons had ever been used in crime and that only one (.50 calibre) weapon had ever been stolen. Reponses (sic) also focused on the fact that the proposed prohibition would stop the use of these weapons where they were used in recreational or representative sport. There was also concern that firearms enthusiasts were being targeted despite firearms already being strictly controlled and rigorously regulated. Respondents commented that currently all those using these weapons can only do so through the granting of a Firearms Certificate.

 

The majority of the respondents commented that where the consultation referred to prohibiting ownership of .50 calibre ‘material destruction’ rifles, due to the ability to penetrate police body armour if used in criminal activity, was inaccurate and misleading. The ability to do so does not stem from the rifle but the special effects ammunition used, all of which are currently prohibited under Section 5 of the Firearms Act, and therefore unavailable to civilian shooters.

 

It was generally referred to that the number of .50 calibre weapons in the UK was relatively small. These firearms are of high value, with the rifles, ammunition and their ancillary equipment being expensive. Therefore, any scheme to compensate for the prohibition of such weapons would be disproportionate. A general point was made that the prohibition of these weapons, which are large and heavy to transport, would do nothing to stop terrorists/illegal use of firearms, due to them being an unlikely weapon selected for such activity. However, some respondents did state that should this be of concern to the Government, then an alternative to prohibition would be to make these rifles subject to enhanced security measures, such as the type of storage facilities in which rifles were kept or their location.

 

Respondents commented that the consultation provided limited explanation on why these types of firearms had been identified and captured as part of the proposals. There were also responses that purported that these weapons were described in the consultation in a misleading way and that it was unclear what would ultimately be captured. Respondents focussing on the .50 calibre, felt that should the legislative 16 measures be developed, it would cause risk of including a wide range of calibres. Respondents referred to having heard that the legislation would extend to potentially those firearms with the muzzle energy in excess of 10,000 ft/lbs, which would capture not just the .50 calibre but also others, a number of which that are historic firearms of a collectable nature. This was raised by respondents from historical and re-enactment societies who were concerned with the potential impact it may have on them. Some also commented that should this proposal be enforced then there would be a risk that it would capture many historical military and hunting rifles.

 

Some of the respondents commented that the proposal groups the two weapons together and that they should be treated differently. It was claimed that the manually activated release type rifles, are particularly well suited to disabled shooters and therefore any such restrictions on this category of firearm would be a risk of being considered discriminatory towards disabled shooters. There was concern that the MARS rifle was not a rapid fire rifle as presented in the consultation and that a definitive description of the MARS was not provided and therefore the consultation was not clear on precisely which rifles were at risk of prohibition.

 

A large number of the responses on this proposal referred to the cost implications that had been used as part of the Impact Assessments as being considerably underestimated. Respondents stated that many of the rifles are more costly than indicated and that the costs given do not take into account any of the ancillary gear that would also need to be compensated for. It was also viewed that the costs did not take into account other .50 calibre rifles that might be caught as well as those rifles, should the proposals extend to include firearms over 10,000 ft/lbs.

This is to certify, that we tested the cyclical rate of fire of the M.A.R.S Vz.58 Sporter and we found it mechanically unable to fire more than 2 rounds in 1 second. Compared to a semi-automatic firearm, the M.A.R.S Vz.58 cyclical rate of fire is approximately 3 times slower than that of a semi-automatic firearm action where a semi-automatic firearm would be capable to fire 5 rounds or more in 1 second, this largely depending on how fast the shooter can pull, rest, and then pull the trigger again. This cyclical rate of fire of the M.A.R.S Vz.58 is comparable, but definitely not faster than that which can be achieved with other firearm actions such as bolt action, straight pull, lever action, SMLE actions… (i.e. not automatic or semi-automatic actions) and, therefore, the M.A.R.S. Vz.58 cannot be rationally described as more or less dangerous because of its design.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

The bill has had its first reading through parliament no debate took place at this reading. An announcement shall be made of a date for a second reading in which it should be debated. 

The second reading will take place on Wednesday 27th June 2018, so time is of the essence! 

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WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

01

Write or re-write to your MP and Lords (they will also have a vote). It’s important that you avoid using templates as they are filtered out. State the facts and your concerns on the matter.

Find your MPs and Lords details here: www.writetothem.com

02

Tweet/message your MPs, Lords and Government departments on social media.

03

Research your local constituency to find out your MPs majority, what party they represent and their stance on this issue.

04

Follow and support the FCSA on Facebook, Twitter and visit their website.

05

Write to your Organisations and Associations asking them to use their influence to oppose this bill.

SHARE YOUR RESPONSES

If you receive a response which is positive or negative please let us know! Make sure you let us know the MP, Lord and/or Organisation name and your area.

The best way is posting to our Facebook Firearms-UK Community but you can also send us a Tweet, an email, or message the Facebook page.

CONTACT US

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