October 2007


Details of the implementation of key measures in the Violent Crime Reduction Act can be found at the following links.

> See News Item


> See GCN Comment



March 2006

Parliament is currently considering the Government's Violent Crime Reduction Bill which includes measures that would affect the manufacture, import and sale of Imitation Guns and the sale of Air Weapons.  The measures proposed have the support of Gun Control Network.

The Bill has been amended at its Standing Committee Stage.  Read the amended billThe relevant sections of the Bill are in Part 2.

The Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 29 March 2006.  Read the debate.

8 June 2006

The Government's main proposals relating to guns in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill are: 

  • It will be illegal to manufacture or sell an imitation firearm other than one which no reasonable person would mistake for a real firearm, with tougher sentences introduced for those caught carrying imitation firearms

  • There will be tougher manufacturing standards to ensure that imitation firearms cannot be converted to fire live ammunition

  • There will be a ban on the sale of primers and specialist re-loading equipment used to assemble the components of ammunition to anyone without a valid firearm or shotgun certificate

  • The law on the indiscriminate and reckless firing of airguns from private property will be tightened

  • The age for acquiring or possessing an air weapon without supervision will increase from 17 to 18

  • The Home Secretary will have the power to make regulations to provide for exemptions, for example for imitation guns for theatrical, film and television work, and children's toys will not be caught by the ban, unless they are realistic imitations.

    Imitation guns already in circulation can still be possessed lawfully but cannot be sold.

    Home Office Minister Hazel Blears, who announced the proposals, said that action was needed to tackle a rise in the use of imitation firearms.  "Criminals are fairly bright people in many cases and as they change their behaviour we have to tighten our laws".

    The proposals have generally been welcomed by campaigners for tighter gun laws and by the police.  Jan Berry, chair of the Police Federation said "The federation supports a ban on all imitation firearms.  Imitation and replica guns are responsible for a substantial proportion of UK gun crimes and many are readily converted at a low cost into lethal weapons."

    Sir Ian Blair, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said he believed the Bill addresses many concerns raised by UK police forces and spoke of their particular concerns for public safety in respect to the use of replica weapons.

    Michelle Forbes, vice chair of Mothers Against Guns said the organisation was "absolutely delighted that they have revisited the issue, it's a step in the right direction."

    There has been some disappointment that the measures announced on airguns do not go far enough.  Those organisations like GCN who have campaigned for airguns to be included in a licensing system and others who have sought a total ban on airguns will hope that there are further moves on this when the Home Secretary makes his promised announcement in July.

    The disappointment was felt most keenly in Scotland where the death of Glasgow toddler Andrew Morton in March has prompted much debate about the dangers of airguns.  Andrew's mother said she was very disappointed that not more had been announced, and a number of politicians described the planned measures as inadequate, although they differed in what was required.  Tory MSP Bill Aitken wanted more severe measures to be taken against people for firing airguns recklessly.  John Robertson, a Labour MP, would rather have had an outright ban.  Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell is reported to have been lobbying the Home Office in attempt to get a licensing system for air weapons, or at least a permit system for the most dangerous types.  Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said she would continue to liaise with the Home Office "to see if there are any other ways we can further tighten the law".  Kenny MacAskill, the SNP's justice spokesman described the changes to airgun legislation as a token gesture and called again for a Scottish Firearms Act to be passed by the Scottish Parliament.

    However, two days later it was reported that Jack McConnell does plan to introduce tougher airgun laws for Scotland (see Headlines).

    Read more in the following articles

    > BBC online

    > Scotsman

    > Times

    25 October 2006

    The Bill has now completed its Third Reading in the House of Lords and will be returning to the House of Commons.  During the final stages a few amendments were tabled which would have watered down some of the Bills proposals on Imitation Guns and Air Weapons, but these were withdrawn after debate.  An amendment to the Bill which would have allowed a limited re-introduction of pistol shooting in Britain based on the need to practise for the London Olympic Games was also withdrawn.

    > See the Debate in the House of Lords on 16 October 2006

    > See the Debate in the House of Lords on 25 October 2006

    Gun Control Network is monitoring the progress of the Bill through Parliament and the Government's response to some of the amendments.  Further updates will be provided.

    Royal Assent

    The Violent Crime Reduction Act received Royal Assent on 8 November 2006.



    GCN PRESS RELEASE from 13 October 2005 (an earlier version was released in August 2005)

    The Violent Crime Reduction Bill  2005

    The Violent Crime Reduction Bill was initially published on 8 June and had its second reading on 20 June 2005. As it enters the Committee stage today, an orchestrated campaign to water it down is underway.  Paintballers and airsoft gunners who feel their sports are threatened are urging MPs to throw out the section of the bill that deals with imitation guns.

    Section 30 of the Bill introduces the term 'a realistic imitation firearm' which it goes on to define as 'an imitation firearm whose appearance is so realistic as to make it indistinguishable, for all practical purposes, from a firearm of an existing make or model ...'. An imitation will not be regarded as 'distinguishable' if it could be distinguished from the real thing only by an expert, or on close examination or as a result of attempting to load or to fire it.

    So, anything that looks like a real firearm will no longer be legally sold, imported or manufactured. It does not matter whether the gun fires a pellet, a capsule of paint, a ball bearing or nothing at all. If a court finds that a BB gun or air pistol looks like a realistic firearm then it may not be manufactured, bought or sold.

    There will of course still be look-alikes in cupboards and under beds all around the country, but in due course even they will gradually disappear - perhaps an opportunity to hand them in to the police will assist the process.

    The aim and benefit of this excellent piece of legislation is to stop children and young people treating guns as toys, learning about the power the gun gives them and graduating to more dangerous weapons.

    As Gill Marshall-Andrews Chair of the Gun Control Network says 'No-one needs a realistic imitation gun - except perhaps a re-enactment society. Paintball and airsoft guns do not have to look like the real thing. A green plastic BB gun would not be affected by the proposed legislation. If it's not lethal and doesn't look like a real firearm then there's no problem'.

    The Gun Control Network welcomes the government's commitment to dealing with the recent sharp rise (66%) in gun crime involving imitation guns.  We will be safer, and importantly we will feel safer, if we can stop the spread of these unnecessary weapons.