Opinion Former Article

Offensive Weapons Bill amendments withdrawn

BASC is pleased that a number of firearms-related amendments to the Offensive Weapons Bill have been withdrawn.

The amendments tabled included various proposed restrictions on the use of firearms and ammunition through modification of the Firearms Act 1968.

Among the clauses withdrawn at a meeting of the Public Bill committee yesterday was one that would ban the use of airguns by people under 18 on private land other than part of a shooting club.

Others included one which would have impacted on ‘home-loading’ of ammunition and a new clause which would have made it an offence to purchase or acquire shotgun ammunition without a valid firearm certificate.

BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “I was particularly pleased to witness Home Office minister Victoria Atkins MP steer the Bill committee towards common sense.

“We understand there were worries about some of these amendments and are pleased they have been withdrawn. There will be ongoing talks with political parties and the government but those threats, for now, have been dealt with.

“BASC briefed committee members before the debates and has lobbied the committee.”

BASC was disappointed that an amendment to set up a firearms advisory committee empowered to make recommendations to the Secretary of State concerning firearms law and the codification of that law was withdrawn.

BASC gave evidence to members of the Public Bill committee on the Offensive Weapons Bill back in July.

When asked at the time about the implications of the proposed ban on .50 calibre rifles within the bill, BASC’s director of communications and public affairs Christopher Graffius told members of the committee he was “particularly concerned” because it would take away a legitimate, lawful and safely-conducted sport “at which we do particularly well in the World Championships”.

He told the committee: “I think it also establishes a principle in law via muzzle energy which could be used to threaten even more commonly-used calibres and that could seriously damage shooting in the future.”

Mr Graffius gave evidence to the committee alongside BASC’s director of firearms Bill Harriman.

In early June, BASC met Home Office minister Victoria Atkins MP for talks on what was at the time the proposed Offensive Weapons Bill (https://basc.org.uk/blog/key-issues/media-key-issues/basc-meets-minister-for-talks-on-offensive-weapons-bill/)

And later that month, BASC briefed MPs ahead of the second reading of the Bill, telling them that attempts to ban .50 calibre rifles were disproportionate and not evidence-based.

Following the second reading, in which the government said it was in “listening mode” on the Offensive Weapons Bill, BASC welcomed “absolute assurance” from Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP that he was “ready to listen” to MPs about .50 calibre rifles.

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