Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
proffrink

Law Commission – Firearms Law, A Scoping Consultation Paper

Recommended Posts

Worth a look on the Zeroin forums, as the likelihood is this will be affecting us all in the coming years.

 

In summary: read chapter two of this: http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/cp224_firearms.pdf

 

Zeroin link: http://forums.zeroin.co.uk/showthread.php?261556-Law-Commission-%96-Firearms-Law-A-Scoping-Consultation-Paper

 

Received a tip-off from a friend with contacts at the Law Commission that they've finally got around to releasing the consultation paper on the rationalisation of Firearms Law in the UK. The Law Commission is an independent organisation whose remit is to review currents law and suggest changes to the Parliament after a public consultation period. To date, 2/3rds of recommendations made by the Law Commission have been enacted, so their words carry weight in Parliament.

The full consultation paper can be found here – http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/cp224_firearms.pdf

Please read it, particularly Chapter 2, which is the part that directly affects us – lethality.

Comments on the recommendations can be sent either by email or post (details on page iii). It is vital that our voice, as Airsofters, is heard. I know I don't have to spell this out for the majority of you, but for the benefit of the retards hidden amongst us (and let's be honest, there's quite a few on here), read the whole paper and think before you write. If in doubt get someone to proof-read it and “sanity check” it before you respond – and remember Rule #1 – don't be a d*ckhead.

The closing date for responses is the 21st September. Anything received after this period will be disregarded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having read through Chapter 2 there is a general fault in the logic of defining lethality on the basis of muzzle energy. As they quite rightly point out a dart (designed to penetrate) will be lethal at 1J whereas airsofters get hit with >1J BBs all the time and they don't get injured let alone die from the impact. Lethality isn't just about muzzle velocity, its also about penetration and that is about pressure. Its somewhat amusing actually because we already have a basic test for lethality involving ballistics gel. If you cloth a ballistics gel dummy and you still get sufficient penetration to kill a human then you have yourself something that is potentially lethal. If it can't do that (and airsoft weapons can't even at 2.5J) then its not going to be lethal.

 

Its only a consultation but I think I ought to comment on the lethality section and the definition based soly on muzzle velocity is severely lacking in basic understanding of the physics involved in bullets penetrating and both sides need to be addressed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They seem to acknowledge the fact that the 1 joule rule is flawed when it comes to airsoft, and even points out that airsoft currently has its own exemption within the law, hence the consultation question:

 

"2.63 If the threshold of lethality was set at 1 joule should there be a specific exemption for the airsoft trade, similar to that already contained within the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006?"

 

I plan to respond, and poi t out that airsoft should retain its exemption, or perhaps adopt the higher joule limit in RIFs which my nature of their hop up, loading mechanism or magazines cannot be loaded with any missile other than spherical pellets, rendering the earlier observation about sharp projectiles null

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I plan to respond, and poi t out that airsoft should retain its exemption, or perhaps adopt the higher joule limit in RIFs which my nature of their hop up, loading mechanism or magazines cannot be loaded with any missile other than spherical pellets, rendering the earlier observation about sharp projectiles null

 

Don't neglect to acknowledge balls designed to shatter though (I can't see how that would be lethal though, but if shot to the neck could be fatal, but as acknowledge in that paper, seems they don't recognise that lethal is reasonable to apply to such a narrow scope).

 

Also note 2.5 (3) relates to an ongoing thread here in relation to a firearms ban.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Don't neglect to acknowledge balls designed to shatter though (I can't see how that would be lethal though, but if shot to the neck could be fatal, but as acknowledge in that paper, seems they don't recognise that lethal is reasonable to apply to such a narrow scope).

 

Also note 2.5 (3) relates to an ongoing thread here in relation to a firearms ban.

Whose side are you on? :P

 

Fair call though, although I've never seen any bbs designed to shatter.

 

Would they actually do harm though? Remember that the act of shattering uses energy from the projectile to break apart, so with the limited energy given by an airsoft bb there would probably be no energy left to do any damage. Especially now that the bits of bb are even smaller and lighter now

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Zero in

That would be far more reasonable.

For anyone wondering, go to 2.52.

Edit
Also this: http://www.airsoft-forums.co.uk/uplo...lity_UKARA.pdf

 

In that link in the test for skin breakage, they don't appear to take into account the so called "BB Burn" from the extreme rotation of the BBs at short range breaking exposed skin. They make no mention of hop up, but one would assume they were firing at targets from less than 1 metre, or how else could they achieve reliable velocity tests in the same experiment (at the time it was done).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having read through as much of the consultation paper as I can, before getting brain ache, I do think that at last the Government has decided to get their Act together (pun intended) in relation to firearms and, from the tone of the consultation paper, I do think it will overall be of benefit to the airsoft industry and our hobby. I would prefer that they use the 2.5J - 1.3J limits, otherwise we might all have to end up buying TM products to keep below the 328fps / 1J limit. The paper does at least seem to side with the airsoft industry, so there is hope for us yet.

 

The really daft part of the current legislation is obviously that over 18s can still buy and use a 12ft/lb air rifle, which has a rifled barrel and can shoot a pointed projectile at around 12J and which can kill vermin, and cause significant injury to a human, but is prohibited, without access to the provisions of the VCRA specific defense, from buying an airsoft RIF that shoots a round projectile out of a smooth bore at around 1 - 1.3J and which, whilst it can break skin (I know from numerous games!!), cannot puncture to sufficient depth or with sufficient kinetic energy to cause significant injury.

 

Hopefully in a few years we can have a much more user friendly Firearms Act that defines airsoft RIFs as toys and takes them out of the FA entirely. We can only hope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't fancy having RIFs defined as toys, that would mean any numpty could get their hands on them and it only takes one deranged lunatic to try to rob a bank with one to ruin it for everyone else.

 

I've been thinking today about a definition that might help define airsoft guns as non lethal. My idea was that an airsoft gun cannot be readily converted to fire anything other than spherical bbs. But after thinking about it, I don't think that's true.

 

Converting an AEG would require you to remove the hop bucking, change the feed tube of the hop chamber to hold a bullet shaped missile straight, and a small rubber o ring to hold the next one straight before the nozzle loaded it to where the hop used to be. The magazines would be tricky but not impossible if you had some tools and time.

 

A gas gun on the other hand would not be as difficult to sort the feeding, as the magazine would already hold a little bullet shaped missile straight, the only real problem to overcome is holding the missile in The firing chamber after loading it, nothing another tough o ring won't fix.

 

Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also do real steel shooting and when it comes to vermin shooting and such there are defined maximum ranges (minimum energy levels) that air weapons can be used for because they aren't lethal to the animals being shot at. For an air pistol against a rat its something like 6metres, and for the guys that hunt rabbits with 12J rifles its less than 30m. Considering these are such vastly higher numbers than the consultation paper you would expect they would be a lot more lethal than they actually are.I wouldn't want to be defending myself with an air pistol, I'd take a knife any day of the week, no way an air pistol is going to take down an assailant. The numbers in this are far away from reality of genuinely lethal, we are back to could it harm someone rather than actually being used to kill at any reasonable range.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My idea is that of you could convert an RIF to fire pointy objects, like a bullet shape with a sharp end, then you could end up with something that could potentially do serious harm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My idea is that of you could convert an RIF to fire pointy objects, like a bullet shape with a sharp end, then you could end up with something that could potentially do serious harm

 

But at what point does a conversion replace the entire interior, the fact is that anyone can build a fully automatic airsoft gun without ukara, create their own chambering mechanism for pointed ovoids - made from any tubing, and they have a weapon. UKARA and airsoft is only attached to the RIF elements.

 

Want to buy a gearbox, barrel, battery (?) go right ahead.

 

IF anything, the airsoft RIFs are safer than a wooden box with a gearbox and barrel, at least they would create duck and cover fear - unlike say, an umbrella or any cardboard/wooden box, cant say table leg unfortunately.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My point is the legal argument. From the document above, I think a key feature that will help define an airsoft gun is that it is not designed to handle these dangerous ammunitions. If this reccomendation is put to the commons and the Lords, it only takes a few loud people who feel strongly about RIFs (like the greens and labour) to require an airsoft gun to not be readily convertible to handle any missile other than a sphere.

 

It's not my opinion, its just how I believe the document would be interpreted.

 

And yes, you would need to replace the barrel, hop chamber and magazines, but most of us on here have done this already, only with aftermarket parts rather than custom parts.

 

Thinking now, I don't think that an airsoft gun could be considered readily convertible this way...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My point is the legal argument. From the document above, I think a key feature that will help define an airsoft gun is that it is not designed to handle these dangerous ammunitions. If this reccomendation is put to the commons and the Lords, it only takes a few loud people who feel strongly about RIFs (like the greens and labour) to require an airsoft gun to not be readily convertible to handle any missile other than a sphere.

 

It's not my opinion, its just how I believe the document would be interpreted.

 

And yes, you would need to replace the barrel, hop chamber and magazines, but most of us on here have done this already, only with aftermarket parts rather than custom parts.

 

Thinking now, I don't think that an airsoft gun could be considered readily convertible this way...

 

I just meant that the stigma (need for airsoft defence) is less about function and more about form. But lets face it, anyone can build (buy) an airsoft projectile launcher.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK guys, this is my 1300 word letter that I knocked together. does anyone fancy proof reading it for me so I don't include all the mistakes that I cant see because im so tired? Thanks!


Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to offer my opinion and experience in regards to the recent consultation paper published with regards to improving legislation concerning firearms and similar articles. I myself have never owned nor used a firearm; however I do regularly take part in organised airsoft skirmishes, and own four Realistic Imitation Firearms which I use for the sport. I will therefore only have constructive input to offer in response to Chapter 2, "Lethality".

I have plenty of experience with Airsoft replica weapons, the vast majority of which have a muzzle velocity which is less than 350 feet per second when firing a BB with a mass of 0.2 grams, which equates to approximately 1.138 joules. This is the generally accepted standard upper limit of muzzle velocity across the airsoft community in the UK. I also have much experience disassembling airsoft guns in order to maintain them and replace parts to improve the performance (rather than muzzle energy) of the weapons.

After reading through the chapter, I agree wholly that legislation should set a clear definition of a lethal weapon, which can easily determine whether an article can be considered a Firearm, or an Imitation Firearm. I do not believe that "Lethal" should refer only to its capacity to kill a person, but rather its capacity to inflict a life changing injury. To explore this, I will follow with the idea that the muzzle energy of a firearm should decide the fact, as it can be scientifically measured with chronographs, aiding in the timely resolution of a legal case.

The situation I believe that would give the greatest chance of a life changing injury requiring the lowest muzzle energy of a firearm involves a shot from the firearm fired at point-blank range which strikes the eye of the injured party. If the missile was travelling with sufficient energy, it would penetrate the eye and cause irreversible damage, resulting in permanent loss of vision. This scenario does not require a very powerful article to class as a firearm, as you can imagine how fragile the human eye is. There has in fact already been an attempt by the Association of Chief Police Officers to determine the lethality of an airsoft weapon, which included an experiment conducted by the Forensic Science Service, which noted that a steel ball bearing will penetrate the eye with only 0.8 joules of kinetic energy, whereas a plastic BB requires 1.4 joules of kinetic energy.

This brings me neatly to my second observation, which is noted in paragraphs 2.43 and 2.48 that certain projectiles will be inherently more dangerous than others owing to their penetrative capability. From the data given by the Forensic Science Service, it is clear that the material of the projectile makes a great difference, as we can say at least that a metallic missile will cause more damage than a plastic missile with equal kinetic energy. Compounding this complication is that the shape of a missile could also have a significant impact on the lethality of the missile, as a dart shaped missile will likely cause more damage due to the increased pressure of its impact.

With these points in mind, I will give my personal opinions with regards to the three consultation questions in Chapter 2:

1) "What should the Lethality Threshold be?"

I believe that for most "firearms", this should be one joule, as this takes into account the potential for any ammunition that could cause serious harm. However, with respect to my responses to the other two consultation questions, I also believe that in a firearm that is designed to fire only spherical plastic missiles, and that cannot be readily converted to handle or discharge and missile other than a spherical missile, that the limit should be increased in line with the Home Office's guide and the recommendations of the Association of Chief Police Officers

2)"If the threshold of lethality was set at 1 joule would it have a disproportionate impact upon the legitimate trade in air weapons?"

I can only speak for the Airsoft Community, as I do not have any experience with other legitimate trading of air weapons. The airsoft community has coped well in the past with the introduction of the VCRA, which in its first iteration technically criminalised the sale of any airsoft replicas. This is the driving force which created the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association (UKARA). Since its formation, the UKARA has become a mainstay in the airsoft community as almost all Airsoft Retailers and Airsoft Organisers (those that organise properly insured skirmishes) subscribe to. It has even become so well recognised that when an airsoft enthusiast purchases an airsoft replica from abroad and it is shipped into the country, the UK Customs Agency will check the UKARA registration of the Airsofter and allow the RIF to continue on its journey once they are satisfied that it is being used legitimately.

3) "If the threshold of lethality was set at 1 joule should there be a specific exemption for the airsoft trade, similar to that already contained within the VCRA 2006?"

Owing to the findings of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Forensic Science Service, and the presence of the UKARA, a strong registration system within the airsoft trade, I believe that there should remain a specific exemption.

The premier reason for this is that setting such a low threshold of lethality has the possibility of criminalising newer members of the community, owing to the nature of an airsoft replica. as Airsoft is popular all over the world, and many countries operate different limits of muzzle energies (for example, American airsoft tends to have much higher muzzle energy limits, and Japan has a strict energy limit of 1 joule) the replicas on the market often have a wide range of muzzle energies, and many new players, upon obtaining their first airsoft replica, will attempt to increase or decrease the muzzle energy of the replica to a level just below the "site limit", typically 1.138 joules. In doing so, it is possible that they may accidentally set the muzzle energy of their replica above the lethality threshold, without any intention of doing so. Coupled with this, many airsoft replicas are powered by the expansion of pressurised gas, typically a specialist mixture of propane and lubricant, and sometimes other ingredients (known as green gas). These replicas can suffer from variations in their muzzle energy as a result in changing temperatures, increasing the mass of the ammunition (as heavier ammunition is often used to increase the accuracy of an airsoft replica) and differences in maintenance techniques.

Finally, for the purposes of airsoft, one joule falls well below what could otherwise be defined as the maximum safe muzzle energy. at all airsoft skirmishes, wearing suitable eye protection is mandatory, and failure to do so usually results in the instant removal of the player for their own safety. This is often a condition of the PI insurance held by the organiser. As all airsoft players wear eye protection, the risk of serious injury is greatly reduced, and speaking from experience, absolutely any barrier between an airsoft BB (with a kinetic energy of around one joule) and your body will prevent the BB from breaking the skin, whether this is a chest rig used for carrying magazines or a thin summer base layer. There is of course still the potential for injury in other areas, if a player is hit in the ear this is likely to draw blood. there is also the possibility of being hit in the mouth as a significant portion of the airsoft community choose not to wear full face protection, which can result in broken teeth; whilst this is certainly unpleasant, I would not consider this a life changing injury, and in fact mouth injuries do not seem common at all.

I hope that my input has been valuable to your consultation, and should you require any further explanation of my opinions, I would be more than happy to assist you

Yours Sincerely

R****** Grover

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this specifically highlights that it does not wish to make life harder for legit airsofters. Generally, the tone and focus behind this seem to be a fair approach accommodating (and clearly expressing an openness to allow exemptions for Airsoft weapons where legislative changes may have an impact) our sport.

 

I would encourage any who wish to contribute to the consultation to do so with appropriate levels of respect, and constructive comments.

I've seen elsewhere people getting all clucked up on this without actually reading the document, and we really don't need the law society getting abusive rambling letters leading them to think airsofters are all whacked out nut jobs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK guys, this is my 1300 word letter that I knocked together. does anyone fancy proof reading it for me so I don't include all the mistakes that I cant see because im so tired? Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Fair dos, but...

Can I caution against some of this.

 

Sections of this tell the reader that the poorly regulated RIF market has lethal weapons being imported to the UK all the time and a cold day means that safety certainty disappears.

 

I know that's not what you're saying and mean this as a critical friend/constructive criticism, but the reader may be-

1 speed reading

2 poorly informed and without context beyond your letter

3 in a bad mood

4 with a loaded perspective against airsoft

So it might not help overall, if you know what I mean?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2 poorly informed and without context beyond your letter

 

Yes, if you're going to refer to the lethality report by Hampshire police, be sure to include a copy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×