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VCR Bill - Important Update

Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:33 pm
by Feldjager
I received the following email from Dr Phillip Elliot-Wright today:

n Tuesday 26th September I attended a meeting at the Home Office in regard to the elements of the forthcoming Violent Crime Reduction Bill associated with the sale of deactivated and blank firing weapons. It will be recalled that in its original form it threatened to effectively ban all, including legitimate re-enactors, from purchasing, importing or manufacturing (ownership was not affected), any deactivated or blank firing weapons, alongside restrictions on the sale of primers.

The original clauses and definitions have now been significantly amended as a result of representations made to the Home Office to provide safeguards for re-enactors that ought to enable them to still obtain blank firing and deactivated items and an actual legal definition of re-enactment.

The crucial element is Clause 35. Clause 34 creates various offences related to the sale, transfer, manufacture and/or import “realistic imitation firearms”. However, Clause 35 creates various defences to Clause 34 offences. Within this there are crucial safeguards for re-enactors that shall permit them to still obtain both blank firing and deactivated items for the purpose of re-enactment.

Firstly, Clause 35 (1) reads “It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under section 34 in respect of any conduct to show that the conduct was for the purpose only of making the imitation firearm in question available for one or more of the purposes specified in subsection (2)”

Secondly, Clause 35 (2) (e) states that one of these purposes is “the organisation and holding of historical re-enactments organised and held by persons specified or described for the purpose of this section by regulations made by the Secretary of State”

Thirdly, Clause 35 (7) states that for the purpose of this section “historical re-enactment means any presentation or other event held for the purpose of re-enacting an event from the past or of illustrating conduct from a particular time or period in the past”

It has also been agreed that the Secretary of State ((Home Office) will henceforth recognise any group, regardless of size (i.e. one person and up), in respect of Clause 35 (7) “historical re-enactment…” provided it has third party public liability insurance in the name of the “society”. Thus history is being made. At last re-enactors will be recognised in law as a specific legal activity with a workable definition. In essence, taking Clause 35 (7) as the baseline, Whatever the “historic” activity being “illustrated”, from whatever period (the Home Office accepts that the “past” is anything from yesterday backwards, so ALL historic periods are covered, ancient, medieval, early modern and modern, right up to this moment in time). Equally, whether a society/group is one man/woman or 6,000, all it needs to do is fit Clause 35 (7) and carry third Party Public Liability insurance in its name. As it is an offence to put on any form of “public” display (even if private and on private land) without such insurance, all re-enactment groups will automatically fulfil this definition.

Philipp Elliot-Wright

Thus the definition of a re-enactment is defined for the purposes of the bill.

Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:46 pm
by Hollenweger
That is some bloody good news! 8)

Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:51 pm
by Jungmann
Thanks for the update Dave. Has been kind of quite on the VCR bill front recently.

Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 7:14 pm
by Feldjager
It looks that way, yes.

Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 11:00 pm
by Hoffman Grink
Kurt Volkmar wrote:Great news Dave, one question springs to mind.
will henceforth recognise any group, regardless of size (i.e. one person and up), in respect of Clause 35 (7) “historical re-enactment…” provided it has third party public liability insurance in the name of the “society”.
Does this mean that if you have insurance cover under the Sportsman Association you will not be covered by the clause 35 as this is not named to any group but rather the individual?

One or two people will be scrambling around as a result of this!!!!!

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:08 am
by Hoffman Grink
Following on with this vein. I found this on another forum and I wonder if you'd read through it?
I lay no claim to it and do not endorse nor scorn it. I just pass on the information for you to consider.

To all Re-Enactors. I apologise for the length of this posting I have no other place to link it too. I respectfully ask that you bear with it, as the proposal is extremely important to re-enactment as a whole. I feel obliged to state that I make no claim to this proposal it is the work of a great many re-enactors and the gun trade. To whom I wish to extend grateful thanks for all their efforts over the years.
R. Palmer. (Iron head)

This document has been around for over five years, which is the average time it takes a proposal to go through the system. It has been before the Firearms Consultative Committee, and also the Association of Chief Police Officers twice also various home office officials. The feed back from all of them has been very positive most agree it will work. Sections of the original draft have now become law; we now need to get the rest adopted. It is time for those of you reading this to add your backing, lobby your M.P.s., and encourage other re-enactors to support this proposal.

Creation Of A Specific Re-enactment Certificate

Please insert your own History within Re-enactment as a
Re-enactor, and send at once to The Home Office and Your Local M.P. and M.E.P. with this document whole or as basis for submission. The gun trade as a basis for their submission is also using this document. It is vital that we are all sing the same song.
Deadline for this to be heard is 15th October 2006.

These Proposals Have Been Researched and Produced by
Re-enactors and NO other organisation has been involved.
So please READ and SUPPORT this Effort to Keep OUR HOBBIES ALIVE. Thank You

Proposal for the Creation of a Specific Re-enactment Certificate
With Changes In The Classification Of Fire Arms,
With Regards To Re-Enactment Usage.

These Proposals are the result of considerable discussion with participants in all periods concerned at events, involving Firearms related re-enactment over several years. Others have added input from their own areas of Re-enactment who simply wish to enjoy their Hobby.
Your Own History Field within Re-enactment here

We do not claim to be experts on the law; Simply people who have to deal with the problem the current regulations cause, who feel it is time our opinions were heard as well. There have been rumours about changes for years. The home office is issuing a white paper at the end of October so we need to get our proposals in as soon as possible. Re-enactors are not the only ones getting frustrated. I know from personal experience that many police officers are as frustrated with the problem they encounter because the Firearms Act does not recognise some obscure medieval weapons.
When the 1920 Firearms Act was first drafted. re-enactment as we know it now - DID NOT EXIST as a result we face considerable confusion and complication in classifying many firearms. Subsequent amendments paid little mind to the problem as irrelevant in the larger picture it is only in recent years Re-enactment has become large enough to be of influence.
Over recent years Re-enactment has changed considerably in one key area -AUTHENTICITY. Re-enactors are expected to be 100% correct in every detail. It is a matter of Pride to be right from Boots to Buttons. This extends to weapons yet Firearms related UK Re-enactors are seriously restricted in types of Weapons they may own & use to the Detriment of the over all Show.
The following Proposals are offered as a Re-enactors Best Case Option while serving the Interests of Security and Public Safety. While allowing Re-enactors to pursue their Hobby with as much freedom as possible within the Law Also bringing us into Line with European Practice in Areas where UK Re-enactors are Seriously Disadvantaged at Present.
We are well aware that the Public at large are concerned about Guns and that there is a Gun Crime Problem in Britain. We would expect that the misuse of any firearm held specifically for Re-enactment purposes, especially live firing or possession of live cartridge ammunition would carry severe penalties under the current regulation concerning illegally held weapons and ammunition.
It is a fact that vast majority of the weapons used by Re-enactors - HAVE NOT, DO NOT and WILL NOT appear in Criminal Hands. The Home Office currently Judges a weapons lethality be conceal ability and fire power (Rate of Fire). By that yardstick 98% of re-enactment firearms DO NOT apply on either count.
Currently the most common Re-enactment weapons are Black-Powder muzzleloaders. Who's Owners, have NO wish or intention of ever firing live ammunition (under current regulations. Smooth bore muskets held by Re-enactors can be used legally with shot it is a matter of trust that they will not load Ball.) We are the largest single users of Black Powder in the UK far exceeding - Sports (Target) shooters in number and quantity. In fact it is possible that the number of Re-enactors using Firearms purely as Blank Firing may well exceed the total number of people using Sporting (Target) firearms. Re-enactors are responsible people who wish to purse their chosen hobby with as little hassle as possible while respecting the rights of others.
Re-enactment Firearms fall into two basic classes Muzzle loaded Black Powder weapons and cartridge weapons. The former currently form the Bulk of Re-enactment Weapons. This is due in large part to the current regulations that, seriously restrict or prohibit the ownership and use of many types of late 19th c. and 20th c. weaponry. This situation is at odds with continental practice, which allows far more freedom without any apparent problem concerning the weapons. One particular area of frustration to Re-enactors is pistols in most cases no suitable usable pistols are available for many periods. Add a more discerning public who are aware of what they are looking at the small errors become a major problem. Weapons to be correct, not only need to look right but also sound right for the presentation. This proposal is intended to address the problem without effecting security or public safety.
Creation of A Specific Re-Enactors Certificate

The proposed new certificate is intended to work in conjunction with changes in the classification and modification of certain classes of firearms. In addition, to cover the whole range of firearms licensed for Re-enactment purposes. The new certificate would ideally be a modified section two (Shotgun Certificate) with added restrictions concerning ammunition and weapons allowed to be acquired Under the proposals holders of live firing weapons on section one and two certificate who also wish to use these firearms Re-enactment use should be allowed to do so with no problem. Owners of Weapons of historical value or significance, who do not wish to have them modified, should be allowed to use them for Re-enactment as at present. If adopted persons applying for class one or two certificates purely for Re-enactment purposes should be obliged to apply for the Re-enactment Certificate with its restrictions rather than a full open certificate.
It would only allow the acquisition and holding of weapons specifically bought constructed or professionally modified for Re-enactment purposes. Weapons held on the certificate would be restricted to use in re-enactment, Living History, and Theatrical work as many Film Companies have begun hiring to groups in recent years. Re-enactment groups have the costumes, weapons and experience, which film companies are looking for rather than hiring extras and having to train them. This represents a useful source of income for many groups allowing them to expand and develop. Re-enactment can be expensive especially 20th c. vehicles and weapons cost a lot of money.
The Certificate would NOT allow the acquisition of any form of live ammunition also forbid the use of shot or ball in any muzzle loading weapons. Holders would be restricted to acquisition of blank ammunition in the calibre appropriate if cartridge weapons. It would exclude the purchase of any weapon not intended exclusively for Re-enactment.
Applicants for Re-enactment certificates would be required to produce proof of membership to a firearms related Re-enactment group/s as good reason to grant certificate. The applicants to be restricted to the class of weapons relevant to their period, new applicants may be initially restricted to the number and type of weapons which they may posses.
It is our proposal that the certificate is multi-class as with the Driving Licences and applicants are authorised only for those classes relevant. The listing below is intended to class weapons in categories which reflect both security concerns also dividing them into those which already fall into shotgun A & B and those which would require modification C, D, E, F.
Multi-Class Certificate
A - All muzzle loading black powder, cannon and mortars.
The current barrel length and bore diameter restriction to be removed, as they serve no useful purpose with regard to cannon or mortars. In addition, security requirements need to be reviewed with regard to larger cannon barrels, which are far too big to fit into normal cabinets.
Current guideline do not allow the police officer to exercise common sense with regards to these weapons whose size and weight could be considered security in itself.
The class would also include reproductions of original early weapons including breech-loaded (Beer Mug guns), which currently fall into a loophole. The barrels are smooth bore shotguns but under the current regulations the chambers are section one, we would propose they be exempted and regarded as re-loadable cartridges.
Other weapons which fall foul of the rules are volley guns and copies of hand cannon. If the weapon is a copy of an original weapon either exact or in the spirit for manufacturing or safety reasons, then it should be regarded as meeting the requirements and held on a Re-enactors ticket.
We would propose that two other types of artillery be included in the class first all black powder rifled muzzle and breech loading cannon and mortars.
These fall into two types the bulk are very large fortress pieces; e.g. the 9.4 Armstrong at Fort Nelson plus a few field pieces of various types.
In all cases ammunition for the weapons has been unobtainable since the late 1800's outside of the few museum exhibits.
The second is all modern artillery and canon not subject to MOD restrictions. Live ammunition is unavailable the weapons involved are mostly large and heavy requiring considerable effort to move, or installed in armoured vehicles, or smaller either AT guns or AA cannon in both cases live ammunition is unobtainable.
There is no evidence that the guns currently held on section one tickets are any threat to public safety beyond the possibility of being involved in a Road Traffic Accident.
Their removal from section one to a Re-enactors ticket will simplify matters also remove the curious position of a 4-ton 155mm Howitzer being classed the same as a .22 target rifle, including security requirements.
It would also simplify the moving of the weapons to and from events also storage.
B - Smooth Bored - Black Powder muzzle loaded
Shoulder arms
including percussion, flint, and wheel-lock pistols
C- Breech loaded single shot
Shoulder arms metallic cartridge, percussion and flint types
to include percussion revolvers. Britain is the only European Country, which does not permit front venting in blank firing pistols, a situation which leaves British Re-enactors at a serious disadvantage. Early western and American Civil War groups are heavily penalised due to a lack of appropriate pistols. 18th c. and 19th c. British Army Officers are even worse off as NO suitable usable service pistol or revolvers are available due to the current regulations.
D - Manually operated magazine weapons.
Including cartridge revolvers and semi- automatic pistols, smooth bored and adapted for blank firing in the case of semi-automatic pistols.
E - Semi-Automatic Rifles
Adapted for blank firing only
F Fully Automatic
Small Arms adapted to blank firing only to include S.M.G's
Changes In Classification & Modification
Firearms for Re-Enactment Use

The basic premise for the Re-enactment Certificate is that all weapons held on it would be either bought, construction or professionally modified specifically for Re-enactment purposes. These would include, weapons authentic to a particular period of usage - e.g. short-barrelled shotguns commonly used in the American West. To do this we propose that any weapons must be smooth-bored as a basic requirement any further modifications required, would be a matter for the Home Office and Proof House to decide.
In the case of rifled weapons bored out we would recommend they be over bored. Ideally in most cases the standard smooth bored muzzle loaded musket would provide the base line and no further modifications be required.
We would exempt artillery from this provision on the grounds of cost, in the case of lager pieces very few firms are equipped to do the work and the costs are prohibitive for no practical gain. With most modern large artillery pieces, disabling the recoil system, would render them incapable of firing live ammunition without serious damage to the piece.
We propose a return to the pre 1988 position concerning weapons used in Re-enactment. At that time smooth boring a weapon moved it into section two regardless of its original class. As far as I can find there is no evidence that the weapons so modified represented a threat to public safety at the time I can see no reason why they would today. The changes in classification would affect only rifled weapons in classes C-F plus pistols. The work would have to be done by a Registered Firearms Dealer (R.F.D.), and to be inspected and marked by the Proof House as correct. This would provide R.F.D.'s with a useful source of work. The gun-trade has not recovered from the effects of the banning of pistols, which destroyed hundreds of businesses. The Proof House would also receive a useful boost in its revenues.
For rifled shoulder arms in class C-D and percussion revolvers the modification would be simple enough to do weapons in E-F would be more complex but any modification would by design render the weapons incapable of firing live ammunition.
Gas/gas recoil operated weapons require some form of bore and or muzzle restriction to create backpressure so they can function. It is fairly simple to produce a permanently fixed restriction. In addition, modifying working parts to be unable to with stand the stresses of live firing while still allowing the weapons to be stripped for cleaning and maintenance. Any attempt to fire a live ball cartridge would result in serious damage to the weapons and injury to the user. Weapons modified under the proposals would be rendered useless as firearms and reduced to licensed blank firing weapons. This process would have following advantages:
1: It would generate a considerable amount of work for a large number of small businesses.
2: It would remove a large number of firearms from circulation reducing them to either shotgun or blank firing.
3: It would provide Re-enactors with a much-improved range of weapons to use at events.
It would allow the removal of the large number of section one and five firearms currently held by Theatrical props departments and Armouries for use in Films and T.V. from live fire classifications.
The reduction of all Re-enactment weapons to section two would have several benefits both to police and Re-enactors. It would save considerable time and effort on the part of the police who would issue one certificate covering 14th c. to 21st c. Re-enactment firearms. Rather than, the current mismatch of sections one, two, and five. It would also remove Re-enactment weapons from the section one and two sporting categories, leaving those classes specifically for live firing weapons. Separating the classes would simplify the task of keeping track of who is doing what.
Would simplify licensing also to be of practical benefit at shows and events.
Under current regulation the security for section one firearm’s can be problematical outside your home county. A matter not helped by the conflicting polices applied by different police forces as to what constitutes security involving section one firearms. Re-Enactors travel all over the country to event and this lack of common policy can be a serious problem Leading to unintended violations of local policy. By reducing Re-Enactment Firearms to section two most of these problems will be removed. Police are generally in agreement as to what constitutes security regarding shotguns for transport storage even in the field use. Weapons can be left centrally in the care of a license holder as at shotgun meeting without loss of security. With section one Firearm’s owners either have to carry them at all times or take time out to lock them away not always possible or practical. A 400 lb. bombard or an eight-foot wall gun will simply not fit in to a porta-loo. This means that you will have to ether shut the door to the porta-loo and break the firearms act, or leave the door open and break several public decency acts, as well as probably indecent exposure offences that will get you on the sexual offenders list. A fact that has been confirmed by the Home Office. As it stands to law frowns upon unnecessary transport of section one firearms our proposal would remove the problem by allowing weapons to be left under safe keeping of another licence holder while owners attended to basic matters such as eating and the toilet. We are aware that the law is not there for the convenience of shooters. This proposal would simplify the securing of weapons when not in use while recognising the practicalities of Re-Enactment use.
For some weapons to be modified for Re-Enactment use they will require exemption from the provisions of the 1988 / 1995 acts with regards to change of classification and magazines restrictions. Some would require exemption from barrel length requirements for shotguns. e.g. Mauser K 98 with its 23.6 inch barrel. These exemptions should not create any threat to public given the nature of the modifications and controls placed on the ammunition.
Given the current licensing status of primers special provision will be needed to allow owners of obsolete calibre weapons for which blank ammunition is not commercially available to load their own. Possession of relevant licences should constitute good reason to buy. These provisions would authorise the acquisition of limited quantities of primers under special circumstances the number involved would be relatively small. These provisions to be used only where re-chambering to a readily available cartridge is not reasonably practicable due to the weapons designee function of antique status and value, or all three.
Given our proposal to legalise front-vented blank firing on a Re-Enactment licence we see no reason why all blank firing weapons should not be licensed. We can see little reason for possession of blank firing weapons outside of Re-Enactment and theatrical arena with the exception of starting pistols, which are already exempt of licensing.
Under the firearms regulations it is an offence to allow prohibited persons access to firearms ammunition or black powder. Currently Re-Enactment groups have to take the new members word that he or she is not prohibited. Which leaves them facing the possibility of at the very least losing their licence for allowing prohibited person’s access to weapons ammunition and black powder. As ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law we are in a catch 22. The ability to request a police check as to any prohibitions of any persons handling firearms for the purposes of training would be most useful. A simple Yes or No is all we require. It is a matter of policy in most groups that all members receive basic training in weapons handling for safety reasons. Currently we have to rely on their honesty and not every one is totally honest plus many people are not sure what constitutes reasons for prohibition.

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:25 am
by Feldjager
Given that the proposed definition of a re-enactment society is one man with PLI, I can foresee a problem here...

There are loopholes in that proposal you could drive a bus through. I won't hold my breath just yet!