The government has decided to proceed with an amendment to remove the ban on high-energy rifles (most significantly .50 cals) from the Offensive Weapons Bill, and will now pass it to the House of Lords for consideration. The amendment passed by 307 votes to 274 in the House of Commons on 28 November.
Before the vote, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins MP stated that the future use of high velocity rifles will now go through a public consultation so that the risks involved can be properly assessed. Chairman of the British Shooting Sports Council, Jonathan Djanogly MP, said in the debate: “The proposal in this bill to ban firearms of more than 13,600 joules muzzle energy velocity including .50 calibre guns is not, under any interpretation of the facts, going to help the fight against crime.”
The Countryside Alliance’s Liam Stokes added: “Now the question of restricting high-powered rifles has been put on the agenda, a public consultation is the only way the risks posed by these rifles can be properly investigated and assessed. The shooting community supports evidence-based firearms restrictions, but the evidence we have seen so far shows no link between criminality and legally held .50 calibre rifles.”
“The Countryside Alliance will engage fully with the government’s consultation, but we will continue to call for the Home Office to refocus their efforts on addressing a far more pressing problem: the chaos gripping the firearms licensing medical procedures. The lack of progress on this issue affects hundreds of thousands of people and is delaying improvements to public safety.”