◼ Government has said it’s in “listening mode” on the Offensive Weapons Bill
◼ MP warns Home Secretary he risks losing confidence of shooting community
◼ BASC welcomes “absolute assurance” from Sajid Javid
BASC has welcomed pledges that the government is listening to concerns over proposals to ban .50 calibre target rifles.
MPs discussed proposals to ban the rifles during the second reading of the Offensive Weapons Bill in the House of Commons yesterday.
BASC briefed MPs ahead of the reading. The association told members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation that attempts to ban .50 calibre target rifles are disproportionate and not evidence-based.
Christopher Graffius, BASC’s director of communications and public affairs, said: “The government has said it’s in “listening mode” on the subject of .50 calibre rifles which it is seeking ban.
“The ban is disproportionate, ineffective and not evidence-based. If the government listens it will scrap the ban.”
Conservative MPs raised concerns over “wholly disproportionate” moves to ban certain types of rifles, warning the Home Secretary risks “losing the confidence” of the sports shooting community.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown, MP for the Cotswolds and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation, said measures to ban 0.50 calibre weapons, outlined in the Offensive Weapons Bill, would criminalise otherwise law-abiding users.
He urged Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP to enter into full discussions with officials over the issue, to which the Conservative Cabinet minister replied: “Regarding high-energy rifles and high-energy weapons of that type, as he will know, there are measures in this to make some changes.
“We have based those measures on the evidence we have received from intelligence sources, from police and from other security experts.”
Mr Javid gave an “absolute assurance” that he was “ready to listen” to MPs about the matter.
Sir Geoffrey described the proposal to ban the weapons with muzzle energies as “wholly disproportionate”, saying it is lacking in evidence and would penalise a group of law-abiding citizens.
Conservative former minister Jonathan Djanogly also raised his concerns, telling the Commons: “The measures (Mr Javid) is talking about is banning them.
“These are about 200 bulky, expensive and very loud rifles that have never been used for a single crime in this country so far as I know, and probably the least likely gun ever to be used in a crime.
“Is the minister aware that in pursuing this policy without good evidence, he’s losing the confidence of the entire sports shooting community for no good reason?”
Mr Javid reiterated he would listen to representations.
Concluding the debate, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said she was in “listening mode” after giving further details on why the Government was seeking a ban.
She said: “This is not an attack on rural sports.”