icanus wrote:basically it was at the local police force's discretion (they could deny it if they felt you had "intemperate habits", you had to demonstrate a "good reason" for owning a gun, and were issued a certificate for a particular weapon and a limited amount of amunition. From 1937, self defence was removed from the list of "good reasons" to own a gun. We've also had various laws that make using a gun in the process of committing a crime a much more serious offence than the same crime without a gun since the 1930s.
It's a little more rigid than purely at their discretion. You have to show good reason for wanting a firearm, but as long as you that reason, and can provide adequate references and have no mental illnesses, etc, then the burden of proof moves to the Police to show you are an unfit person.
Shotguns are different again (Firearms - i.e. rifles and pistols - are on Firearms Certificates(FAC), Shotguns are on Shotgun Certificates (SGC), and each is subtly different), as it is your right to own one - you do not need to demonstrate "good reason". Burden of proof lies with the Police to demonstrate that you have a conviction/illness/some other mitigating factor to show you are an unfit person.
Where the Police are over-cautious, they have been successfully challenged in court.
CarlTheFirst wrote:icanus wrote:Britain has had (by US standards) pretty heavy firearm restrictions since the 1920s - basically it was at the local police force's discretion (they could deny it if they felt you had "intemperate habits", you had to demonstrate a "good reason" for owning a gun, and were issued a certificate for a particular weapon and a limited amount of amunition.
We have similar policies in some locations in the US. But from both the UK laws themselves, as well as UK collectors on usenet, before 1997 anyone who really wanted a working gun could get one. If you didn't need it to be a pistol, rifles or shotguns were easier to get. After 1997, there just wasn't a legal way to do it no matter how many forms you filled out.
Eh? Rifles and Shotguns were never easier to get than Pistols. Shotguns are arguably the easiest as there is no need for good reason and you only need one counter-signatory for an SGC, not the two references required for an FAC. Rifles and Pistols were treated equally. Both were valid sporting firearms for target shooting. It was no harder nor easier to own one or the other.
Since 1997, Pistols have been section 5 (i.e. effectively prohibited for the general public).
You can still own rifles and shotguns in the UK.
Charlie! wrote:Anyone who "really wants one" can still get one off the black market, but they are less likely to for of a mixture of reasons. Similarly, even though it was possible to get a gun before, some people would be less likely to, for a mixture of reasons. When phrased like that, i.e. a way that ignores the distinction between "legal" and "illegal" in favor of directly talking about people's actions, before and after can be compared more apples to apples.
It's still possible to get a gun after the "ban".
Sorry, there seems to be confusion here, or else people are just using "gun" and "pistol" interchangeably (which is confusing - stop it! ).
Technically there is no ban. In 1997, short firearms (pistols) were moved to Section 5. This means they are not banned, but unlike Firearms ("Section 1") and Shotguns ("Section 2"), the relevant licence cannot be granted by local police. It must come direct from the Home Secretary, with the result that they are nigh on impossible to get (the "Sections" refer to Sections of the Firearms Act 1968, and deal with different types of firearm and how they are licensed).
They're not banned, just very closely licensed - i.e. target shooting is not adequate.
A few professional game-keepers have Section 5 permits for cases where they need to deal with an injured deer for instance in tight woodland and a rifle would be impractical. Vets can also apply for similar reasons (also if a deer has been hit and is on the road and needs humanely dispatching - a pistol is far safer than a large calibre rifle, the shot from which may go through the deer, strike the road surface and come back, which is no fun for anyone).
A few movie armourers also have S5. permits to allow them to do their job, and a few dealers have the relevant licence so they can supply these few permit holders and import/export relevant firearms for them.
Also, in the last couple of years, they gave British Shooting a couple of permits for selected Pistol Shooters to train in the UK instead of having to go to Switzerland (which is where they've trained since 1997) in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.
There is a hope that with a more shooting friendly party now in power, they can extend those permits to last for the 2014 Commonwealths (Glasgow), and maybe open them up a bit more, with a view to eventually getting the ban repealed as it is demonstrated that sporting shooters do not pose a significant risk to the public safety.
Indeed, there was talk from the Tories that they thought it was a bad law and wanted to overturn it early in their term of office so any adverse publicity would blow over by the next election. Unfortunately with the tragic events in Cumbria, any reversal or perceived softening of firearms laws was totally out of the question.
Rifles, airguns and shotguns are unaffected from the 1997 legislation. People can carry on as normal - and do so in surprisingly high numbers (their activities just never get any press coverage).