Govt plans to ban replica guns

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12:00 - 11 March 2005
The Government has finally showed willing to move towards a ban on replica firearms. DAVID BYERS, THEO USHERWOOD and JONATHAN REED report

Just six weeks ago, finding a definition for fake guns was still a stumbling block to the Government banning them. But today there is a ray of hope.

And one word - "reasonable" - could make all the difference.

In an interview with the Evening Post, Home Office Minister Caroline Flint said consultation over a ban on imitation firearms could start within months - and legislation would follow swiftly.

For more than a year, the Post, backed by anti-gun campaigners and MPs, has called for a ban on the sale of fake firearms, along with their manufacture and importation.

Even MPs could not believe the Government's claim that finding a definition was too hard - and Broxtowe's Nick Palmer even wrote his own, saying the crucial factor was what a reasonable person thought.

Now Prime Minister Tony Blair has pledged to consult on plans to outlaw the sale and carrying of imitation firearms - using Dr Palmer's definition for a replica weapon, which sets it apart from toys or collectors items.

Consultation will be launched if Labour wins the General Election, widely expected in May.

While that is taking place, Mr Blair pledged to raise the age limit for buying imitation guns from 16 to 18.

The plans were outlined in a crime policy document launched by Mr Blair and Home Secretary Charles Clarke yesterday, which outlined Labour's plans for a third term in office.

On finding a definition of a fake gun, the document said: "We will consult on the feasibility and effectiveness of .... banning the sale and carrying of any replica firearm other than one which no reasonable person could mistake for a real gun."

Ms Flint said: "From speaking to people in the Nottingham area, I know how frightening it can be for people who come across someone wandering around with an imitation weapon, because often it's impossible to tell whether it's a real weapon or not.

"We do want to do more in this area - and that is because we have listened to a lot of voices from people in Nottingham, who have made it clear they want us to do more."

Asked whether a "reasonable person" definition was likely to be the final choice, Ms Flint said: "Yes."

But she added the problems with finding a legally-binding definition "have not been totally overcome" and the forthcoming consultation exercise was still vital to make absolutely sure that definition was clear.

"We are getting there," she said.

"We don't want to create a law which is not enforceable in any way, so we want people in Nottingham to help us find the way to form the law in a way in which it's effective."

Ms Flint said the Government will consult after a General Election, but said she expects consultation to take place in the summer, dropping a broad hint that the election will - as widely expected - be in May.

She said: "This is something we want to get on with.

"There have been a number of discussions on this particular issue and if we won the next General Election we would consult - and we would have a Bill ready after that."

Home Office sources indicated the consultation was likely to last several months.

The Government said it will also consult the public after the election on doubling the minimum sentence for "carrying an imitation gun in a public place without reasonable excuse".

That sentence, currently, is six months.

Notts MPs who have campaigned for a ban on replica guns hailed the move - and urged the Government to stick to its promises.

Dr Palmer said: "It seems common sense has prevailed.

"I wrote to Charles Clarke suggesting this definition after we last spoke.

Paddy Tipping, the Sherwood MP, said: "We are making progress - but now we need to make sure they stick by their commitments after the next election."

"I think they're dragging their feet - get on and do it," said Police Authority chairman John Clarke. Consultation should take no more than five or six weeks."

Head teachers will also be given the power to search troublesome pupils for knives or guns.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "We have heard it all before."

Battling for a ban on fakes

The Post's No Fake Guns campaign was launched in November 2003 and called for a ban on the sale, manufacture and importation of imitations.

It followed an incident where a woman was threatened by four boys at a Colwick bus stop.

The woman was approached by the 13 to 15-year-olds who asked for cigarettes before pulling out a replica gun, which could fire plastic ball-bearings, and holding it to her face.

One boy pulled the trigger ten times.

The gun was not loaded, but the victim was traumatised.

At the time of the campaign's launch, Operation Stealth had seized 200 firearms, of which more than 40% were fake.

Gill Marshall-Andrews, chairwoman of the national Gun Control Network, backed the campaign.

And Tony Blair met Notts MPs Paddy Tipping and Vernon Coaker in December, and said he was considering outlawing replicas after examining the Post's dossier.

The next month, in an interview with the Post, Home Secretary David Blunkett also said he was considering a ban.

The Home Office released figures showing there had been a 46% increase in their use between April 2002 and 2003.

Yesterday, the Government announced it would consult on banning the sale and carrying of imitation firearms.

Tougher manufacturing standards could also be imposed to prevent fake firearms being turned into lethal weapons.

But the Government has not announced measures to ban their manufacture or stop their import.
And this is the government who only fairly recently promised no further restrictions on shooting... :roll:

A serious point here is that if it becomes as difficult to acquire a replica gun illegally as a real gun, then what do you think the criminals will choose? I would rather 100 criminals walking around with Softair guns than 1 criminal walking around with a 9mm - the 100 can only scare; the 1 can kill.

Another point is that the proposed definition is wholly subjective. "Reasonable people" have been convinced that bananas and hammers in plastic bags were real guns and handed over cash. In NL designs are approved by a committee as to whether they are replicas or not - the problem lies in that it is actually more illegal to own a Glock softair gun than an illegal Glock 9mm, since they fall under different sections of the law. I was also informed that robbery with a firearm will get you 5 yrs whereas robbery with a replica will get you 7.... :roll:

Doing all these illegal things with replicas is...well...illegal already, so why not just lock the perps up for that? Oh, wait. These are politicians, so they want new laws to try to solve the problem! To a man with a hammer etc etc etc...

And before someone comes up with the "I see no legitimate reason blah blah blah", here's some:
Film & theatre
Training (e.g. unarmed self-defence against armed opponents, airgun training with similar ergonomics to a real gun, basic safe firearms handling etc)
Softair wargaming (it may be slightly in bad taste, but it's fundamentally the same as paintballing)
Starting races
Neue Arbeit acting on their trademark kneejerk. Banning something which is already illegal - just means that perpetrator and legitimate collectors/gamers now get the same pi$$-ant sentence, because judges are allergic to prosecution and sentencing, apart from where theres a simple yes/no answer. I.E "Man X was in possession of an airsoft replica, therefore he must have been intending to hold up a bank with it." If its something clear cut like "Man Y set a fire with the purpose of luring firemen out to shoot at them with an air weapon, and kills a child" things become a bit more controversial. Government bans anything seen as remotely dangerous to relieve the Judges of any decision which might require use of their training, or god forbid, balls.
if the police can shoot a man dead for carrying a chair leg . I say
let them kill a few scrotes carrying replicas air soft is silly but harmless
air soft guns are less dangerouses than air guns and let the immature
play soldiers leave them alone .Oh and someone tell them if they find a fake firearm its not a fire arm is it ?
What the public fails to realise is that actually DOING something that reduces crime, has a far lower priority to the Gov't than looking as if they have done something.
Reality is not a word in the Gov'ts lexicon.

Knobheads :x
There are laws already in place to deal with people who use firearms or "fakes/imitation/replicas" in committing crime, just apply the law as it is.

Any law to ban replicas will be as effective as the handgun ban.....Oh f*ck me that ban didn't work did it...

How about a ban of fake/imitation/replica MP's ie those MP's that sit on their fat f*cking arses doing f*ck all of any real help to real people but spend their time pandering to catchy headlines and inventing new ways of fiddling their expense chit's.
Banning an implement used in violent crime is useless. They should look at the causes of the crime in the first place. Next it will be knifes (of ALL kinds) followed by a total ban on any kind of blunt object and rounders bats. Bans solve nothing but to hand votes to incompetants by a jittery and foolish polulance.
armourer said:
How about a ban of fake/imitation/replica MP's ie those MP's that sit on their fat f*cking arses doing f*ck all of any real help to real people but spend their time pandering to catchy headlines and inventing new ways of fiddling their expense chit's.
I thought that's what real MPs did? :?

Besides, and admittedly I not had one pointed aggressively in my face, it's not all that hard to spot the difference betweena replica airsoft gun and a real one.

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