Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, chairman of the All Party Group for Shooting and Conservation, said after a meeting with Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to discuss high muzzle energy rifles that “the government is reconsidering the ban and is in listening mode”.
Sir Geoffrey has led the defence of such rifles with Jonathan Djanogly MP, chairman of the British Shooting Sports Council. The government, acting on advice from the police and the National Crime Agency had included a ban on such rifles in the Offensive Weapons Bill, awaiting its Report Stage in the Commons.
An amendment tabled by Sir Geoffrey to strike out the ban and replace it with a requirement for higher security has secured 62 signatures from MPs as of the 29th October, including the entire DUP parliamentary party. The Report stage of the Bill has been pulled twice by the government and the Home Secretary has confirmed that it will not now take place until the end of November. In the meantime, Home Office ministers are seeking further advice from the National Crime Agency, which is expected early in November.
Sir Geoffrey said: “It is clear that the National Crime Agency, in its advice to ministers, confused military high muzzle energy rifles, which can use incendiary, explosive and armour piercing ammunition, illegal for civilian use, with the target shooting rifles such as .50 cal used in domestic and international competitions.
“The amendment to the Bill specifies that such rifles must be kept at Level 3 Security as specified by the Home Office for those licensed to keep weapons which would otherwise be illegal for civilian use. Level 3 can involve three separate safes for the action, bolt and ammunition as well as a signalling alarm.”
Christopher Graffius, director of communications and public affairs at BASC said: “BASC wants to thank all those who shoot who have contacted their MPs, particularly the members of the Fifty Calibre Shooters Association. Their efforts have ensured that the government is reconsidering the ban. We have to ensure that even more MPs sign the amendment so I would ask those who shoot to redouble their efforts to secure their MP’s support.”