This consultation that applies to England, Scotland and Wales seeks to consult on issues that were raised with the government during the passage of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. It contains proposals for how the law might be changed affecting:
. High muzzle energy rifles
. Air weapons
. Miniature rifle ranges
. Components of ammunition
The NSRA are responding to this as a Governing Body and the summary of our
response (link) shows the main areas of concern.
It is critical that as many individuals and organisations respond to this as
possible so that our views are heard loud and clear in order to avoid any
Please CLICK HERE to view the documentation and to post your response.
Also, an email to your local MP would be useful outlining your opinion.
The consultation closes at 11:59pm on 16 February 2021.
NSRA Response to HO Firearms Safety Consultation
HME (High Muzzle Energy) Rifles, the .50 Cal Debate
It is not widely publicised that these rifles are largely Single Shot Target rifles, large, heavy and cumbersome to set up. They require an above average skill set and intimate knowledge of the firearm. Ammunition is scarce and almost always loaded for the gun by the owner. No average gun shop stocks this ammunition.
The security surrounding the storage of these Rifles should be on a case by case basis and tailored to the individual.
Levels of Security
There is a likelihood for confusion regarding security because the Firearms Security Handbook describes three levels of security (and each one of those is not prescriptive) and these Security Levels do not agree with the British Security Installers Association (BSA). The BSA has four levels of security and so is at odds with the Home Office Guidance. This has the potential to cause confusion between the Firearms Certificate holder and the Police and needs to be addressed.
Direct monitoring has become mainstream now and is not outside the means of a responsible HME rifle owner.
Included in the consultation are requests for views of certain other security measures. Far too much emphasis is placed on CCTV and experience says this evidence is largely without value. In this modern age of personal protection it is not unusual to see individuals masked and gloved. This largely removes the value of CCTV and fingerprint evidence.
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.
So called “rape alarms” or “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. This in a venue which has high levels of security and panic alarms are installed as a matter of course
It is unreasonable, impractical and disproportionate to expect certificate holders to store component parts at other certificate holders or RFD’s premises. It is also highly dangerous and for example, a Mauser or Remington Bolt is easily interchanged and this could have serious consequences.
Normally it is a requirement for grant of a Firearms Certificate and indeed perfectly reasonable and good practice for ammunition to be kept separately from the Firearm.
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 just emotive and it is this sort of misrepresentation that shooters most object to. Vehicles are not referred to as weapons but sadly they have been put to that use by certain criminal elements. Doing the same to the shooting public is merely sensationalism.
The UK is a world leader in airgun shooting. The discipline is inclusive and involves participants of all ages, gender, walks of life and abilities/disability.
Airgun shooting has a deep seated yet 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 shooting sport.
The present laws around airgun ownership, use and possession are quite adequate and it is felt that the application of the current laws would be the right thing to do. It is wholly unnecessary to burden the public purse with new and ever more complex legislation when our current laws are perfectly suited. It is wiser to apply these and not create laws for creation’s sake since this could have unintended consequences.
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 would work with manufacturers, shooting clubs, distributors and indeed the general public, improving awareness and safety, this would have a far greater beneficial effect.
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 we 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 the miniature range.
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.
Many, many 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 whole websites dedicated to just this aspect.
As well as the obvious cost element, many firearms do not reach their full competition potential until a load has been developed for that particular gun. Again the UK leads the world in many competitive disciplines and reloaded ammunition is part of that success.
There are also concerns with availability of ammunition. With the reduction in the number of outlets throughout the UK, it is not always possible, safe or convenient to obtain ammunition from a shop. Vintage firearms pose their own set of problems of course, with ammunition not always being available off the shelf.
Again there is the issue of producing new, tailor made legislation. 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.