Home‎ > ‎HBSA NEWS‎ > ‎

Urgent - Offensive Weapons Bill

posted 23 Jun 2018, 11:14 by Tony Cattermole   [ updated 23 Jun 2018, 11:45 ]
The following notices come from BSSC and NRA. 

Members who are able should get in touch with their MPs as suggested below.

The Second Reading of the Offensive Weapons Bill will take place on the 27th June. This constitutes a major threat to target shooting, and indeed could potentially set a malign precedent for other shooting sports since it seeks to prohibit two types of rifle for which there is no evidence of misuse.

Despite the very short notice it is important that both the Associations and individual members email directly any Member of Parliament with whom they are particularly in contact. Please see the excellent NRA draft letter below which they are happy for you to adapt for individual use. We are doing so and also encourage our members to email their constituency MPs to express their concern.

NRA notice to their members:-

“Offensive Weapons Bill” – Second Reading Wednesday 27th June 2018

We the target shooting community are being unfairly treated by prohibitions proposed in the above Bill.

I have emailed MPs asking them to challenge the Bill;

Time is short and it is essential that shooters contact their local MP and:-
  • State their support to the NRA’s letter
  • Urge their local MP to question:
    • the details of the NCA / police Risk Assessments that apparently have identified .50” calibre / MARS rifles as particular risks to public safety
    • what reductions in firearms crime are expected as a result of the prohibitions
    • the incidence of legally held rifles being used in crime; and
    • why the strict rules on the granting of FACs are deemed insufficient in the case of .50” calibre, MARS and lever release rifles.
Our politicians have many demands on their time and attention; it is best to concentrate upon the unjustified attack on the law abiding shooting community rather than detailed technical descriptions.

This Bill, if unchallenged, risks setting a dangerous precedent for the shooting community as it proposes banning certain firearms without evidence or credible justification. Today the target is .50” calibre and MARS / lever release rifles; tomorrow it could be one of yours.

Please email your local MP – their contact details can be found https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Andrew Mercer
NRA Group Chief Executive & Secretary General

Andrew Mercer’s letter to MPs based on the above is as follows.

Members may adapt this accordingly for their own letter.

The major associations, including BSSC, are in the process of arranging for the Bill to be challenged and we are working with them.

I have written to my MP personally and as HBSA.

Derek Stimpson

By email Dear [name]

“Offensive Weapons Bill” – Second Reading Wednesday 27th June 2018

The target shooting community are being unfairly treated by prohibitions proposed in the above Bill.

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:-
  1. 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
  2. The Home Office have provided 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
  3. 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.

Further details of our communications with the Home Office can be found [here]; please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further information.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Mercer