Law Commission begins firearms legislation review

The Law Commission has started work on reforming firearm offences in the UK.

A newly announced three-month consultation, which will culminate with a published report expected in spring 2016, sets out to clarify and simplify legislation around possessing and acquiring firearms. The Law Commission’s remit will also include considering the potential benefits of a single firearms code.

The UK’s existing legislation was brought before the Law Commission after the police and prosecutors tackling gun crime argued that it was complex and unclear. Initial research found that there were more than 30 overlapping and inconsistent provisions over firearms, which not only made it difficult for the criminal justice system to respond to gun crime, but also risked legitimate gun owners and collectors failing to comply with the current laws because of a lack of clear definitions over key concepts.

The review, which is supported by the Metropolitan Police Service Forensic Firearms Unit and the CPS, was launched by Professor David Ormerod QC, law commissioner for criminal law, who said: “Our aim is to clarify and simplify the legal framework, ensuring that public safety is not compromised. Our reforms will strengthen the protection offered by the law by ensuring illegal firearms are dealt with by clear and robust legislation, and that criminals no longer have the opportunity to exploit loopholes in the law. We will also seek to ensure that the law is clear for legitimate holders of firearms.”

The Commission will open a three-month consultation in summer 2015, supported by a scoping consultation paper and a conference for stakeholders.

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