Tel: +44 (0) 1350 724 228

You are here: Home | News

SACS response to the Home Office firearms safety consultation

SACS has responded to the Home Office firearms safety consultation. The consultation covers security arrangements around high muzzle energy rifles, airgun security and young person access, miniature rifle ranges and a proposal that a current FAC is an appropriate check to acquire rifles for miniature ranges, and proposed legislation covering components of ammunition with provable criminal intent to manufacture for criminal use or supply criminals.

SACS response to the Home Office firearms safety consultation

Government consultation available HERE.

Our response can be downloaded and read HERE:

Points to note:

1. There is significant history to most of these matters. We and partner bodies have been working on and discussing these matters for a considerable time. This Home Office consultation was expected.

2. Collectively and with the support and full engagement of the Fifty Calibre Shooters Association we, as sector, have already won the principal arguments about HME rifles. This consultation follows on from that victory for shooting advocacy where the matter of enhanced security, proposed by some shooters as a workaround, needed to be properly and fairly consulted on. We welcome this aspect of the consultation.

3. SACS in its membership breadth does not represent many miniature rifle range operators. In our experience this tends to be commerial businesses e.g. fairgrounds or school type small ranges. That said, we are aware of persons having certificates revoked for genuine reasons, looking to use the miniature rifle range exemption from certification as a legal 'get round'. Clearly deliberate legislative circumvention creates a challenge for the future of genuine miniature rifle ranges. That being said, in our background discussions and earlier meetings we and others have made it clear that those bodies with greater involvement in miniature ranges should, fairly, have a greater say. Our consultation response reflects those conversations in support of bodies closer to miniature rifle ranges.

Where we do have a legitimate 'say' in this area, is that if a 'challenge' occurred as a consequence of a miniature rifle range operator not having undergone reasonable checks - that person not being an FAC holder - then certificate holders may be disadvantaged by a Government ill-inclined to a reasonable and proportionate view on firearms matters. This may include yet another interest in S/A rimfires. Essentially, be very careful what you wish for.

Our principle is that firearms checks should be reasonable, proportionate to risk and equitable. We cover this in our response.

4. Young people should have safe and supervised access to airguns - period. Demonstrably this ADDS to overall firearms safety and responsible handling. Government time and resource would be better-employed in further-developing responsible airgun handling information which could be made freely available in gun shops, as well as online.

5. Components of ammunition: please read the consultation questions and our response in full. SACS is crystal clear in its response that if this is deemed to be a genuine and evidenced area of concern - we are aware of genuine arguments for and against - the actual assemblage (having all the bits and pieces) would not be a crime unless there was substantive 'mens rea' (i.e. 'intent' in law) e.g. digital communication evidence supporting an intention to supply criminality.

So, someone having bags of old cases for a previous chambering or calibre that they had and may have again some day, or boxes of unused bullets for old calibres, or reloading dies and kit for calibres not on their certificate because they use them for swaging or reforming one calibre case to another, or just for collecting purposes or any other multitude of entirely legitimate purposes, should not be affected.

We make it clear that if this is a genuine legislative direction of travel based on genuine criminal concern then the legislation wording should be watertight to protect legitimate firearm interests. We and our partner bodies expect to be fully involved in ensuring that any legislation solely targets those persons who have an assemblage of ammunition components with clear evidence of an intent to use in criminal acts or supply to organised crime gangs.

That being said, our response emphasises that: "the current Section 1 offence Section 1 (1) (b) of The Firearms Act 1968 (as amended) creates an offence of having ammunition in a person’s possession if they do not have a firearm certificate authorising that possession. This offence is established, familiar and well-tested in the courts. It is a meaningful and sufficient deterrent."

SACS stands by that fundamental principle.

Further, expanding bullets, and ammunition loaded with expanding bullets, have only recently come off the ridiculous Section 5 position. The basis for that sensible change in law remains.

Rest assured, that that we will continue to work with our partners and Government to ensure that legitimate firearms interests are supported. A busy year ahead...