The Home Office has today (Thursday 19 October) published proposals to update the laws around antique firearms, following advice from the police and the Law Commission of a rise in criminal cases involving antique weapons.
A new consultation will consider enshrining in law a new definition of antique firearms, which will help ensure older firearms which still pose a danger to the public are licensed.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said:
This country has some of the most robust gun laws anywhere in the world.
But we must not be complacent, which is why these laws are kept under review, and a rise in antique guns being used in crime requires action.
This consultation will bring clarity to the law so that older firearms that still pose a danger to the public are properly licensed to stop them falling into the hands of criminals.
The consultation follows recent convictions connected to the misuse of antiques weapons. In November 2015, 18 members of the ‘Burger Bar Boys’ gang in Birmingham received substantial sentences for a range of firearms offences. They had sourced antique firearms and arranged for ammunition to be specially made to fit the weapons. They had then sold the weapons to criminal gangs for considerable profit.
In June 2017, Sultan Meer from London was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment for firearm offences. A police investigation showed that Meer, who claimed to be a collector of antique firearms but was already prohibited from possessing a firearm, was obtaining antique guns and trying to acquire ammunition for them.
The consultation will consider which obsolete cartridges and propulsion systems will lead to a firearm being considered antique. It will also consider a change to the automatic cut-off date of manufacture after which all weapons must be licensed. Currently this date is 1939 but this could shift to 1900.