Law Commission Report - Firearms Law: Reforms to Address Pressing Problems (15 Dec 2015)
by Gun Control Network on 21-12-2015
This deeply disappointing report completely fails to address the pressing problems that public safety demands. It has been hijacked by the shooting lobby and become enmeshed in technicalities which are of no interest or relevance to the general public.
Around 55% of all gun crime is committed with weapons that are perfectly legally held, either because they are licensed or because they don’t need a licence. This is the ‘Pressing Problem’ that should have been the focus of the Commission’s report.
The Gun Control Network outlined some of these public safety concerns e.g. the failure of the system to license thousands of lethal weapons, the lack of an independent element in the licensing process, the failure of the police to integrate their domestic violence and firearms data, and the failure of the judiciary to record a declaration of interest when dealing with firearms licence appeals and revocations.
GCN also recommended interviewing the victims and survivors of gun violence but this was never done due to an ‘oversight’.
Instead, the Commission has listened to the Gun Trade Association, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, the UK Airsoft Retailers Association, the UK Airsoft Players Association, the Deactivated Weapons Association, the Countryside Alliance, the Historical Breechloading Small Arms Association, and, astonishingly, Her Majesty’s Council of Circuit Judges. This latter body was represented by a Judge who is himself a shooter.
The one significant recommendation is that a ‘lethal gun’ should be defined as one with a muzzle energy of one joule or more. This would have been helpful if the intention was to license all such weapons but there is no such intention. Shooters are re-assured that weapons such as airsoft guns and airguns will not be licensed even where they have a kinetic energy of over one joule. [Airsoft guns are realistic imitation military weapons which are unregulated, available through the internet and proliferating. They are used in violent and racist skirmishing scenarios of a particularly concerning nature and the Home Office has no idea how many Airsoft sites there are around the country].
Gill Marshall-Andrews, Chair of the Gun Control Network, says:
"This report demonstrates how effective the shooting lobby has been over the years and how they have succeeded in resisting reforms to the gun laws in this country, much as the NRA has done in America. They have employed their usual modus operandi and overwhelmed the Law Commission with technicalities which are likely to make little difference to public safety. A great deal of money has been spent in order to make the lives of shooters easier and every effort has been made to re-assure them that nothing will be done to constrain their access to weapons.
Not a single mention of the concerns expressed by the Gun Control Network appears in the report and not a single victim or survivor of gun violence was interviewed.
The report is a lost opportunity to make us all safer and as such has been a waste of public money."