The Offensive Weapons Bill misses the target

(Guest post by Jon Francis). There is proposed legislation going through Westminster called the Offensive Weapons Bill. This Bill covers a number of areas including online knife sales, sales of acid and a ban of two types of currently legal firearms. Some of it is very sensible; some of it stupid and blatantly opportunistic.

The principal issue with the Bill is a proposal to ban high muzzle energy rifles (.50” BMG and above – a proposed 10,000 ft.lbs. limit) and a limited number of rifles which are deemed to be ‘rapid-firing’, such as VZ58 MARS. These firearms are held by legitimate target shooters who are fully licensed and vetted. The holders of these firearms are subject to rigorous licensing procedures and comply with a high standard of security arrangements to ensure the safe keeping of these legal firearms which are used for target shooting sports.

Despite the fact that these legally held target shooting firearms have never been used in crime, nor terrorism, the Home Secretary is recommending a ban on them, citing as yet unpresented Security Intelligence that purports to show that criminals and terrorists may be targeting the theft of these legal firearms from their licensed holders! Perhaps catching the criminals and terrorist may be a better way of approaching this alleged problem?

It is worthy of note that the most prevalent type of firearm used in crime, and the tool of choice of the criminal – the handgun, or pistol or revolver – was banned from legal ownership in 1998. However this had no impact on the illegal use of such firearms, as criminals and terrorists, unsurprisingly, do not follow legal routes to ownership.

Previous firearm bans have repeatedly been unsuccessful in impacting the criminal community and only serve to heap punishment and punitive measures upon an already very law abiding shooting community whose only vice is to enjoy a challenging sport that happens to involve firearms.

It appears that a mainly good intentioned and sensible bill is being exploited to criminalise currently legal and permitted items for no good reason and may further prove only to alienate the target shooting community in this country.