My Lords, I am sorry to disappoint my noble friend, especially in light of my success with the amendments that I will be moving formally a little later. I am afraid that these MARS and lever-action rifles are self-loading. The mechanism inside them works in exactly the same way as the automatic rifles that I used in Her Majesty’s service. I do not support these. I thought that we had banned them post Hungerford. At the time of Hungerford, I was surprised that you could privately own a self-loading rifle—a 7.62 military-specification rifle.
Going back to the point by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, I did not realise that, post Dunblane, there was a so-called sporting discipline of combat shooting. Noble Lords will recall the noble Lord, Lord Howard, talking about those who don the trappings of combat. I was unhappy that people could do combat shooting—in other words, changing fire positions and, most importantly, changing magazines. That is the edge that the security forces have over a private person: they train to make sure that they do not pull the trigger and find that they have an empty magazine.
So I am afraid that I do not support retaining the civilian ownership of MARS or lever-action rifles. They are self-loading rifles, and I thought we had banned them a long time ago.