Ban on self-contained gas cartridge or tandem air cartridge firearms
On 20th January 2004, it bacame an offence to manufacture, sell, purchase, transfer or acquire any air weapon using a self-contained gas cartridge system.
Anyone who already owned one of these firearms on that date was able to keep it only if they obtained a firearm certificate from the Police. (Before 1 May 2004).
Alternatively, existing owners could hand their weapon into the police for disposal but this needed to be before 1 May 2004.
From 1 May 2004, it became an offence, punishable by a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, to possess a self-contained gas cartridge weapon without the necessary firearm certificate.
What is being banned
The ban applies to any air rifle, air gun or air pistol that uses, or is designed or adapted for use with, a self-contained gas cartridge system.
The most common manufacturer of these is Brocock although Umarex and Saxby and Palmer also make these firearms. However, they all make other 'straightforward' air weapons. From 20 January 2004, it became an offence to manufacture, sell, purchase, transfer or acquire such a weapon and from 1 May 2004 it became an offence to possess one unless it has been entered onto a firearm certificate.
The ban does not apply to weapons that use a CO2 bulb system because CO2 bulbs do not contain a projectile and are not therefore completely self-contained.
Not included in the ban are air guns that do not use cartridges containing both the gas charge AND the pellet. Co2 guns, pre-charged pneumatic guns (PCP's), and guns using the gas-ram system are not included in the requirement for a Firearm Certificate if they are below 12 ft/lbs energy at the muzzle for rifles and below 6ft/lb's for air pistols.
The ban was agreed by Parliament as part of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.
Anyone who owned a self-contained gas cartridge firearm on 20 January 2004 could apply to keep it on a firearm certificate. Alternatively, they could hand it in to the police for disposal. Existing ones were not able to sell the weapon or give it away.
To gain a firearm certificate the police must be satisfied that an applicant is fit to be entrusted with the firearm, is not a prohibited person (eg has not received a term of imprisonment of three months or more) and will not represent a danger to public safety or to the peace. Because self-contained gas cartridge firearms are not currently subject to certification and are often used for informal shooting pursuits, the legislation exempts applicants from the usual requirement to demonstrate a good reason for wanting to retain their firearm.
Applicants are required to put in place appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorised access to their firearms. The level of security required will be the same as for other weapons held on a firearm certificate. The precise arrangements are for the police to determine based on the level of risk involved in each case, taking account of factors such as local crime rates and location of the property.
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Anyone who manufactured, sold, purchased, transferred or acquired a self-contained gas cartridge weapon after 20 January 2004 will commit an offence under Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 and is liable to a minimum prison sentence of five years.
Anyone who is found in possession of a self-contained gas cartridge weapon on or after 1 May 2004, without it being entered on a valid firearm certificate, will also commit an offence under Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 and is liable to a minimum prison sentence of five years.
No offence will be committed where someone has applied for a firearm certificate before 1 May 2004 but their application remains outstanding or is the subject of an outstanding appeal.
Retailers will not be able to trade in self-contained gas cartridge weapons from 20 January 2004 although they coulc continue to possess their existing stock until 1 May 2004. If they wish to sell the firearms abroad or to provide a repair service, they could apply to the Home Office for the Secretary of State's authority under Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 and to register with the police as a firearms dealer but applications needed to be submitted before 1 May 2004.
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