The National Smallbore Rifle Association (NSRA) is the National Governing Body (NGB) for airguns, smallbore rifle and pistol shooting in the United Kingdom.

High Muzzle Energy Rifles,

 

Levels of Security

The Firearms Security Handbook endorsed by the BSSC (British Shooting Sports Council) of which the NSRA are members describes three levels of non-prescriptive security. The handbook is guidance and its purpose is to assist the decision-making process when the security of firearms is being considered.

Considerations when deciding upon the individual circumstances should include, but are not limited to:

Dividing the risk, storing the firearm in one cabinet and a major component part such as a bolt or breech block in a separate, approved cabinet is sensible and prudent. ammunition should be stored separately from any firearm.

Protection by a monitored security alarm to BS4737 and a plan of action should it be triggered should form part of the security arrangements.

Additional Security

Included in the consultation are requests for views of certain other security measures. Far too much emphasis is placed on CCTV and research shows this evidence is largely without value.

  • Grilles on windows and displaying alarm boxes on every facet of buildings is unnecessary and unwise, it merely reinforces the observation that there must be something of value in the building and it actually increases the likelihood of burglary.
  • Panic alarms worn around the neck of the individual shooter is not a viable option. It assumes that the other people at the range have failed to notice an attempted robbery is taking place. Almost all carry a mobile phone nowadays should there be a requirement to summon help.
  • It is unreasonable, impractical, potentially dangerous and disproportionate to expect certificate holders to store component parts at other certificate holders or RFD’s premises. If a component is not used in the matching firearm this can lead to a fatal accident.
  • Normally it is a requirement for the grant of a Firearms Certificate and indeed perfectly reasonable and good practice for ammunition to be kept separately from firearms.

Airguns

Referring to airguns as “Air Weapons” is not justifiable. Modern air rifles and pistols were never designed as weapons. To refer to them as Air Weapons is emotive and it is this sort of misrepresentation that shooters most object to.

The UK is a world leader in air gun shooting. The discipline is inclusive and involves participants of all ages, gender, walks of life and abilities/disability.

Airgun shooting has deep-seated and undeniable links to the early days of the Scout movement. Today thousands of Scouts enjoy air rifle shooting as part of their activities alongside other outdoor and indoor sports. Airgun shooting is also embedded in community activities such as Bell Target shooting that still takes place in public houses and has a strong following.

Most people had their introduction to shooting sports through airguns and to see further restrictions on age entitlement is both unnecessary and unwise.

As Airgun shooting is easily accessible, restricting this would reduce the opportunity to educate and familiarise young people with the shooting sports.

The present laws around Airgun ownership, use and possession are already strict and these laws were reviewed and debated as recently as 2013 during the passage of the Anti-Social Behavior Act when age limits for possession and use were also reviewed.

People often forget that an airgun is a firearm in law and needs to be treated as such, it would be beneficial to everyone concerned if the Government could work with manufacturers, shooting clubs, distributors and indeed the general public to improve awareness and safety since this would have a far greater positive effect.

The laws regarding possession and use are widely understood and accepted, it would be of no benefit to anyone to try to “tweak” the current law because of one incident (Benjamin Wragge’s untimely death, the Coroner describing it as a “Tragic Accident” ) involving an Airgun which was of especially dangerous category and illegally manufactured and illegally held. We would cite proportionality.

The NSRA Guidance and Code of Practice documentation (NSRA 3P Air Rifle and Sporter Air Rifle), the BASC Airgun Code of Practice and the Home Office Documentation (Air Weapons – A Brief Guide to Safety Published 16 February 2011 last updated 2 March 2020) all give very good advice, outline the responsibilities of the holder or owner of the Airgun and all are current publications regularly referred to by Clubs and Groups up and down the country and used as clear guides to the Law which is current and valid.

Airgun security and access is already a big part of airgun ownership and the NSRA welcome any clarification of the responsibilities and methods of security. We applaud the Gun Trade Associations donations of locking Securicords to the airgun manufacturers for distribution with new airguns and further initiatives such as this by the trade should be encouraged.

Miniature Rifle Ranges

The Firearms Act 1968 S11(4) provides a valuable opportunity for introduction into the sport of shooting for Scouts, Cadets, youth organisations, schools, colleges and universities as well as the wider public via both Home Office approved clubs and small businesses which operate commercial ranges. The Government is supportive of these aspects of the exemption and the NSRA welcome that. However, the National Governing Bodies recognise concerns about the fact that a person who does not hold a Firearm Certificate may purchase, acquire or possess small calibre rifles and ammunition.

This elderly legislation of 1968 is possibly not in keeping with modern times and it is perfectly reasonable to have the operator of any miniature rifle range vetted by the Police and be issued with a Firearms Certificate in order to operate a miniature rifle range when using small-bore guns.

Traditionally, .22 rimfire ammunition is used on miniature ranges and it is proposed that this remains the case along with the continued use of self-loading rifles, again in common use.

The burden of operating the range should fall on the operator. There is no need to set up special units or make new special provisions to manage miniature ranges, they exist and without any special danger to the general public as long as they are operated within NSRA guidelines.

We would encourage the Government to consider the proposals made by the NSRA and submitted to the Minister KitMalthouse by the Chair of the BSSC (British Shooting Sports Council) by Jonathan Djanogly MP on the 8th October 2020.

We must make it quite clear that our recommendations and references to S11(4) and Miniature Rifle Clubs and Ranges are all in relation to and with reference to the use of Section 1 Firearms and ammunition, namely .22 rimfire (.22RF).

Section 11.4 of the Firearms Act is a very important and valuable part of that Act and is an instrument used by many thousands of people annually to access an introduction to shooting.

These recommendations do not apply to clubs where only airguns are used and not Section 1 firearms or ammunition. Where both are used the proposals and requirement for a firearm certificate only apply to acquisition possession and use of Section 1 firearms and .22RF ammunition.

Ammunition

A large number of shooters throughout the UK reload their ammunition and do so as an extension to their hobby. The study of ballistics is both informative and challenging and there are monthly publications and websites dedicated to just this aspect.

Many of the highly specialised firearms do not reach their full competition potential until a load has been developed for that particular gun and the cost element is also important to competitors, practice is expensive but needs to be maintained in order to keep a competitive edge. Again the UK leads the world in many competitive disciplines and reloaded ammunition is part of that success.

Robust and comprehensive legislation already exists and it would be more constructive to concentrate on collaboration with the authorities, primarily the Police, on the issue of training to improve the situation.

The NSRA does not support the proposal to change the current regulations.

The component that is essential to make a cartridge active is the primer and these are already restricted. Without this component, a viable cartridge cannot be formed and so basically is inert.

Putting other components on any kind of licence would prevent their use for reasonable and legitimate reasons e.g. theatre and film, line dance and western re-enactment.

Cartridge components are sometimes used to make jewellery, fashion accessories and decorative items such as key rings. It could be said that false versions could be made instead of using reloading components but how/who could define what was “real” or not as the shape, size, materials etc. would all be the same.

Ornaments such as bullet boards would be potentially certificated or criminalised as well as the obvious effect on collectors of historical ammunition who would be subject to the legislation with little impact on crime.

The NSRA supports the more complete implementation of the current guidance to only sell primers to people who have section 1 or 2 firearms certificates. Possessing the other components does not indicate any intent to produce fully loaded, active rounds.

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