Government tightens antique firearm laws

The government has made changes to firearms laws it says will close ‘loopholes’ exploited by criminals. 

The new rules affect exemptions for antique firearms that allow collectors and dealers to own and trade in old guns. The government says these exemptions are being exploited by criminals.

Seven ammunition types will no longer be described as antique firearms, while 23 will be added to the list. The estimated 26,000 guns that use them will require firearms licences.

The rules state 1 September 1939 is the cut-off date of manufacture after which a firearm cannot be considered as antique.

Police say the deaths of six people have been linked to antique firearms since 2007.

The law change comes after the changes were debated in the House of Lords last week.

BASC firearms director Bill Harriman expects them to come into effect in April.

He admits the changes went further than BASC expected but he welcomed new ‘clarity’ in the legislation.

“One good thing about it is… clarity equates to certainty,” Harriman says. “Law is often about interpretation of things, but here there is no room for interpretation and whether you like it or whether you don’t, that’s got to be a good thing that something is absolutely certain.

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