In one case, the weapon was held legally; in the other, it was held illegally. I hope that will help the hon. Lady make up her mind as to how she wishes to vote today.
There are many who seek to question the motives of the senior firearms officers who presented evidence to Parliament on the basis of an assessment of the facts. Those officers gave a reasoned, evidence-based analysis, and we are confident that they are not supporting anything that is not completely necessary to their work to keep us safe.
Mr Djanogly made a point about ammunition. In fact, the user requirement for this gun for the military is a system that can immobilise a vehicle with all UK in-service .50 calibre ammunition—not exotic military ammunition at all. Mark Groothuis of Operation Endeavour, the counter-terror policing unit in the Met, told us:
“My concern is that, if one of these guns were to be stolen…and if it were to get into terrorist hands, it could be very difficult to fight against or to protect against. There is very little—nothing, as far as I know—that the police service have that could go up against a .50 in the way of body armour or even protected vehicles.”––[Official Report, Offensive Weapons Public Bill Committee,
c. 33, Q66.]
How is this a risk worth taking? This is a proportionate ban affecting weapons of staggering power. This is the most powerful weapon of its kind still available to the public.
The idea heard in some quarters that this is part of an overall assault on lawful gun-holders is simply nonsense. Last year, there were 157,581 firearms certificates covering over half a million weapons, and over half a million shotgun certificates covering more than 1 million shotguns. This amendment would affect 129 weapons. The truth is that the only way to protect the public from this weapon’s enormous power is to remove it from public hands altogether, and the Government have utterly failed in their duty to do so.