Report on the use of air weapons

Part of Offensive Weapons Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th November 2018.

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Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Conservative, Huntingdon 2:30 pm, 28th November 2018

I thank my hon. Friend for that important clarification.

The National Crime Agency position brief was received by the Library and heavily commented on by shooting experts across the board. The following points are based on their feedback. The NCA brief states that .50 calibre rifles

“are built around enormously powerful cartridges originally designed for military use on the battlefield and to have devastating effect”.

That is true, but it is also true of one of the most common target rifles ever used, the .303 Lee Enfield rifle and one of the most common hunting rifles, the .308, which is also based on a military round. The current full bore civilian target shooting round, at 7.62 mm, is a military round often used in machine guns. The NCA brief further states:

“The propellant mass in a standard M33 .50 calibre ‘ball’
round is nearly ten times as great as that in the standard ‘ball’
round used in the…Army’s primary battlefield rifle, the L85.”

However, that is simply disingenuous, as the 5.56 round used in the L85 is specifically designed to be light and to perform a totally different role from the .50 calibre rifle. In particular, that round is designed to enable large quantities to be carried by troops and is faster firing and easier to use at close quarters, but to say the L85 is any less dangerous as a result is bizarre.

The irony is that .50 calibre firearms could have their barrels shortened, thus taking them beneath the maximum velocity. The 13,600 J limit is entirely arbitrary, and many owners and manufacturers could simply adapt their guns down to the new limit. The NCA refers to recent seizures of guns, including fully automatic weapons, as showing that crime groups are seeking more powerful weapons, but the .50 calibre is not automatic and there is no evidence of crime gangs ever having wanted to use it.

There was also a failure to consider the historic arms position. People should have the right to engage in shooting sports, unless serious possible injury to the public can be proved. I am a Conservative, and Conservatives to my mind do not ban things for the sake of it.