BASC has welcomed a Law Commission report which calls for improvements to laws governing the acquisition and possession of firearms. The Commission, whose purpose is to review laws and recommend reform, says current legislation on firearms is “confused, unclear and difficult to apply”. It has highlighted more than 30 pieces of overlapping legislation and says key terminology – such as ‘lethal’, ‘component part’ and ‘antique’ – is not clearly defined. Crucially, they believe the law has fallen out of step with developments in technology.
The Commission worked with BASC and other groups involved in shooting to produce the report, which has been presented to Parliament and the Department of Justice and will be responded to by the government.
Among their findings, the Commission says there should be single, simple test to determine whether a weapon is lethal, based upon kinetic energy of the projectile without changing existing licensing laws. It also calls for the creation of a statutory list of “component parts” – with the Secretary of State given the power to update the list – and new guidelines on antique firearms.
In addition, it says there should be changes to take account of technological developments while suggesting Home Office approved standards for deactivating firearms should be mandatory to reduce the risk of weapons being “reactivated”. The Commission also proposes a new offence of being in possession of an item with intent to convert a replica into a working firearm.
BASC director of firearms Bill Harriman said: “Clarity on firearms legislation has been lacking for many years. Anything that helps draw legislation together has to be applauded. This is a serious and considered report, this is not knee-jerk.”
BASC Council member Peter Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms law, said: “BASC are in no doubt the current law is in need of an overhaul. We are moving in the right direction and we welcome the content of this report.”