Below is the text of the statement made by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Policing, in the House of Commons on 19 October 2017.
I have today launched a Government consultation on proposals for implementing legislation to define antique firearms.
Antique firearms are exempt from most of the controls placed on firearms if they are held as a “curiosity or ornament”. There has previously been no statutory definition of an “antique firearm”— only non-statutory guidance. This has created legal uncertainty which has been exploited by criminals to obtain old but functioning firearms for use in crime. Since 2008, there have been four fatalities linked to antique firearms. The number of antique firearms recovered in criminal circumstances has increased from four in 2007 to 91 in 2016.
The Government have included in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 provisions to define an “antique firearm” in regulations. This consultation will inform the content of those regulations and provide a statutory definition which will ensure that old firearms that still pose a danger to the public are no longer exempt from control. It will also provide legal clarity on the definition of an antique firearm to help law enforcement tackle criminal use.
The consultation seeks views on the obsolete cartridges and propulsion systems used by old firearms that can be considered antique; a cut-off date of manufacture, after which a firearm will not be considered antique; and arrangements for the ongoing review of the regulations.
The Government welcome responses to this consultation from everyone involved with antique firearms, including the police, dealers, museums and individual collectors. We will take account of all views before deciding on the final shape of the regulations. The consultation will run for eight weeks. A copy of the consultation paper will be placed in the Library of the House and will be available on the Government’s website at www.gov.uk.