According to the UK Government 'Loopholes exploited by criminals to use antique firearms in violent crime will be closed by new laws introduced today' (Monday 9 November).
The antique firearms exemption (known by most as 'Section 58' allows collectors and dealers to possess and trade in old firearms which no longer present a danger to the public, but evidence shows this is being exploited for criminal use.
Seven ammunition types will be removed from the definition of ‘antique firearm’, making up to 26,000 guns that use them illegal to own without a firearms licence.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: "Public safety is our top priority and we cannot allow these dangerous firearms to fall into the wrong hands."
The staement continues:
'The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world - we will do everything in our power to make sure it stays that way.
According to the National Ballistics Intelligence Service, there has been a sharp rise in the number of antique guns being seized from crime scenes in recent years.
In 2007 there were four recoveries, which grew to 97 in 2016 and remain at high levels with 69 recovered in 2019. Since 2007, six fatalities have been linked to antique firearms.
Existing owners of the firearms that will be affected by these regulations can apply for a firearm certificate. They can also sell, deactivate or surrender these firearms ahead of the law changing, which will take place shortly after Parliament approves the legislation. The maximum sentence for the unlawful possession of a firearm is five years’ imprisonment.
The regulations will be reviewed every three years so that they reflect any future trends in criminal use and do their job of keeping the public safe. The regulations apply across England and Wales. The regulations apply to Scotland except in respect of air weapons, which is a devolved matter. The regulations do not apply in Northern Ireland as firearms policy is devolved.
The government continues to do everything in its power to protect the public, including recruiting 20,000 additional police officers over the next three years, expanding stop and search powers to take knives off our streets and investing in early intervention initiatives to support those at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence.'
Shooting organisations welcome some of the changes. BASC believes proposals to change the laws on antique firearms will provide clarity and certainty that has been missing for more than a century.
The Home Office is seeking views on plans to define in law the definition of an antique firearm and establish a process for continually reviewing relevant regulations. A public consultation will run until December 14.
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “BASC is pleased the government intends to import clarity relating to antique firearms into the Firearms Act 1968 by enshrining the legal definition of an antique firearm into law for the first time in over a century.
“In law, clarity equates to certainty. This is very important in a penal statute that has statutory custodial sentences on conviction for the illegal possession of some firearms. People need to know the exact legal status of any antique gun that they intend to collect.”
BASC believes the changes will remove ambiguity by providing a definitive list of accepted obsolete calibres and ignition methods and will allow a firearm of a calibre and type subsequently not accepted as antique to be added to a firearm or shotgun certificate.
Mr Harriman added: “BASC has the in-house expertise to make a first-class response to the consultation. We will also use our close links to the museum world, the antiques trade and to collector associations to ensure that the antique firearms collecting community speaks with one loud voice.
“There is a lot of detailed work to be done over the next month to ensure that collectors are not disadvantaged by changes to the current position as well as exploiting opportunities to expand the range of antique firearms that can be collected without any certification.”
Cartridges to be removed from the list. 'We will therefore remove the following cartridges from the list of obsolete cartridges when making the new regulations:
.320 British (also known as .320 Revolver CF, short or long) .
41 Colt (short or long) .
44 Smith and Wesson Russian .
442 Revolver (also known as .44 Webley)
9.4mm Dutch Revolver
10.6mm German Ordnance Revolver
11mm French Ordnance Revolver M1873 (Army)
This will mean that from the date the new regulations take effect, all firearms chambered for use with the above cartridges will become subject to firearms licensing. Section 126 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 will be brought fully into effect and will allow existing owners to retain such weapons on a firearm certificate without having to show good reason and, in the case of prohibited weapons, without the need for the Secretary of State’s authority under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 (but not in the case of dealers who wish to possess the weapons for the purpose of their business). Museums will be able to apply to retain such weapons through their Museum Licence or other certificate.
Cartridges to be added to the list. 'Respondents representing collectors provided evidence of additional obsolete cartridges that might safely be added to the list. Following careful consideration, and taking into account advice from law enforcement agencies, we have decided that the following cartridges can safely be added to the list when making the new regulations.'
.26 BSA (.26 Rimless Belted Nitro Express) .
33 BSA (.33 Rimless Belted Nitro Express) .
360 No 2 Nitro Express .
40 BSA (.40 Rimless Belted Nitro Express) .
400/360 2 ¾ in Nitro Express
.425 Westley Richards Magnum .475 x 3 ¼ in Nitro Express
.475 No 2 Jeffery Nitro Express
.475 No 2 Nitro Express
.476 Nitro Express (.476 Westley Richards)
.50-90 2 ½ inch
.50-110 2.4 inch .577 – 3 in (Black Powder & Nitro Express)
.577 – 3 ¼ in (Black Powder & Nitro Express)
6.5 x 53mm R Mannlicher (Dutch/Romanian)
8 x 56mm Mannlicher Schoenauer
8 x 58 mm R Krag
8 mm Murata
9 x 56mm Mannlicher Schoenauer
9 x 57mm R Mauser
9 x 57mm Rimless Mauser'
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )