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the law on deactivated weapons


bravo7165
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hi there

can anyone please help me, today i purchased from a dealer a ww1 smle rifle and a 1906 german mauser , both with deactivaition certificates, unlucky for me i was stopped by the police while taking them both home to which the police took the weapons and deac certs to be checked by an arms expert as they said they could see light down the barrel of the mauser they thought it could be reactivated, are deactivated weapon against the law and will i get them back as they cost me a small fortune,what is the law with them

many thanks

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When deactivated the bolt, chamber and barrel are altered to prevent firing of any sort of ammunition.

There must be a solid rod welded or pinned inside the barrel, the forward most part is left open for cosmetic reasons. This is all done to a proper standard. I am more familiar with people having air rifles confiscated by the police in order to verify they do not exceed sub-FAC limits. Plenty of horror stories of said guns never being returned or returned, shall we say, knackered...

Please don't tell us you were carrying them home un-wrapped as doing this would incur the wrath of the local rapid response firearms unit never mind a stop check!

Deactivated weapons to proof house standards and marked as such are certainly not illegal to own, nor do you need a certificate of de-activation by law (although it is always a good idea).

In many cases the police are somewhat ignorant of the law. If the guns have been deactivated in accordance with the law you have nothing to fear and you should make sure you stand up for your rights. In the meantime I would contact the dealer immediately to question him.

And you may find this (from the met police guidelines) helpful:

Deactivated weapons are any firearms which have been converted, in such a manner that they can no longer discharge any shot, bullet or other missile. More importantly, deactivation is intended to be permanent and such firearms should be incapable of being reactivated without specialist tools or skills.

Deactivation work carried out in the UK since 1st July 1989 will generally have been endorsed by one of the Proof Houses, the weapon proof-marked and a certificate of deactivation issued. To these ends, any weapon, even a prohibited weapon such as a machine gun, can be deactivated. The outcome is that the weapon is no longer a firearm within the meaning of the Firearms Acts, and consequently may be possessed without a firearm or shotgun certificate and may be displayed in the owner's home, rather than be locked in a gun cabinet.

Deactivation of a firearm is not something to be undertaken by the layman. There are stringent requirements before a weapon can be proofed as deactivated and such work is best left to a gunsmith. A Registered Firearms Dealer is the best person to speak to if you require a weapon to be deactivated. He can make all the necessary arrangements for you, including deactivation of the weapon and getting it proofed.

Although the above references to proofing and certification do not preclude the possibility that a firearm which has been deactivated in some other way may also have ceased to be a firearm within the meaning of the 1968 Act (as amended), it is important that care is taken when acquiring any firearm which is described as deactivated. You should ensure that you are shown the Proof House mark and certificate issued in respect of any gun deactivated in the UK since 1st July 1989.

Further advice may be sought from the Firearms Enquiry Team, Registered Firearms Dealers or the Proof Houses.

See here:

http://www.met.police.uk/firearms-enquiries/proof8.htm

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When deactivated the bolt, chamber and barrel are altered to prevent firing of any sort of ammunition.

There must be a solid rod welded or pinned inside the barrel, the forward most part is left open for cosmetic reasons.  This is all done to a proper standard.  I am more familiar with people having air rifles confiscated by the police in order to verify they do not exceed sub-FAC limits.  Plenty of horror stories of said guns never being returned or returned, shall we say, knackered...

Please don't tell us you were carrying them home un-wrapped as doing this would incur the wrath of the local rapid response firearms unit never mind a stop check!

Deactivated weapons to proof house standards and marked as such are certainly not illegal to own, nor do you need a certificate of de-activation by law (although it is always a good idea).

In many cases the police are somewhat ignorant of the law.  If the guns have been deactivated in accordance with the law you have nothing to fear and you should make sure you stand up for your rights.  In the meantime I would contact the dealer immediately to question him.

hi there

yes the weapons were covered but it wasnt hard to spot what they were, the armed response unit did turn up in about a minute after being stopped. but as the first two detectives were in an unmarked police car and plain clothed i was reluctant to hand them over at first just thought two blokes were trying to take them in the heat of the moment untill they shown me id and told me to put them down two or three times , but both weapons have birmingham deactivaition certs with them and do have a bar welded down across the barrel. it doesnt help when you live in nottingham, you see the news. but do you think i will get them back on the case that they have contacted the dealer and i have the papers for them both

thanks giles

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...and on traffic patrol...  :huh:

sounds a bit wierd.

regards

doogal

hi dooga

yes just my luck they were casing out the street i decide to walk down, just rang the firearms enquiries team in london and nottingham, they said if they have deac certs with them they are not against the law and will have to be returned which is good news, but whos going to hold some where up with a 1906 mauser or 1917 lee enfield, if it had been a gloc or uzi i might have agreed with them. the law eh

thanks

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hi dooga

            yes just my luck they were casing out the street i decide to walk down, just rang the firearms enquiries team in london and nottingham, they said if they have deac certs with them they are not against the law and will have to be returned which is good news, but whos going to hold some where up with a 1906  mauser or 1917 lee enfield, if it had been a gloc or uzi i might have agreed with them. the law eh

thanks

Very lucky that it was the police and not a couple of criminals looking to expand their arsenal. Must say, I admire your sense of adventure. :D

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Please don't tell us you were carrying them home un-wrapped as doing this would incur the wrath of the local rapid response firearms unit never mind a stop check!

Didn't these chaps shoot someone carrying a broom handle (or was it a table legg) not too far in the past?

Regards,

Marco

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Didn't these chaps shoot someone carrying a broom handle  (or was it a table legg) not too far in the past?

Regards,

Marco

broom handle i think, suppose i was lucky, i could have beat the armed responce unit with them theres no way they could have been fired, i know who would have come off worse, it wouldnt have been the boys in blue

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I think the weld depends when they were deactivated ... cant remember now but if they were deac before, say 1985, the law is different ...unless it hs changed.

I regularly clean my MP40 in the garden ... just waiting for the neighbours to ask me what Im doing!

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I think the weld depends when they were deactivated ... cant remember now but if they were deac before, say 1985, the law is different ...unless it hs changed. 

I regularly clean my MP40 in the garden ... just waiting for the neighbours to ask me what Im doing!

hi there

i feel quite sure both the rifles were deactivated after 1985 i think they were late 90s earl 2000s

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Jonathan,

That is in respect of sub-machine guns and revolvers. The so called 'old-spec' SMG's (MP40/PSH41/Sten/Thomson/M3 Grease Gun etc, etc) are far more desirable as they have 'full moving parts' ie the weapon can be 'cocked' and 'fired'. On the new spec weapons the action must be welded solid. The old spec are obviously far more desirable and hence more valuable. Usually by a factor of around 2.5 to to 3 x. Old spec revolvers also allowed inert rounds to be 'chambered' - a new spec has a ring welded in place. Rifles and MG's (non sub) are different - they can all be 'cocked' and 'fired'.

Before 1985 there was no categoric definition of what constituted 'deactivated' hence the new and more stringent specifications were introduced. Of course all this will be history in a year or so come the criminal justice bill as we all know. Buy 'em while you can.

And if you have an old spec MP40 hang on to it. Currently they are valued at around £1500 - £2000. When they become illegal to sell on the value will only go up.

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Hi there,

They probably stopped you under this bit of legislation as you were in a public place at the time.

Section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended in January 2004 by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003), provides various offences relating to the possession of shot guns, air weapons and firearms and imitation firearms, in a public place. It states:

19 A person commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him) he has with him in a public place

a a loaded shot gun,

b an air weapon (whether loaded or not),

c any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with ammunition suitable for use in that firearm, or

d an imitation firearm.

Notes :

i Loaded see section 57(6)

ii The provision relating to loaded weapons only applies to shotguns. If the offender has with him/her some other firearm he need only have suitable ammunition with him to commit the offence. The possession of suitable ammunition is not part of the air weapon variation of the offence, simply having the weapon suffices. This has the advantage that if kids are seen in public (perhaps by someone walking in the park) with an air weapon, even if they are not traced until later, the offence is still provable on those facts alone (assuming that the evidence is sound, of course).

GUILTY KNOWLEDGE

The 'guilty knowledge' which the prosecution must prove is limited to a knowledge of possession, not the nature and quality of the thing possessed.

(Bear in mind the wording in the offence is actually 'has with him' which is narrower than the legal meaning of possession. The term 'possession' is only being used here as a generic term because it is easier than repeating the actual term every time.)

Therefore, assuming s/he is in a public place -

SHOT GUN / AIR WEAPON / IMITATION FIREARM

The offender must be aware that s/he possesses the weapon. S/he does not need to know whether or not it is loaded (obviously, whether it is loaded is irrelevant to an imitation firearm and not actually necessary for the purposes of proving an air weapon offence)

OTHER FIREARM

The offender needs to be aware he possesses the weapon and some ammunition, but need not be aware that the ammunition is actually suitable for the gun (although it must be suitable in order to complete the offence).

EXAMPLES (both committed in a public place)

If an individual was handed a holdall but was unaware that it contained a .38 revolver and suitable .38 ammunition, he has not committed this offence. However, if he knew that a revolver and ammunition were in the holdall, but not that it was the correct ammunition, he has committed the offence.

B and C tried to rob a store. B had a loaded sawn-off shot gun which C knew nothing about. They were disturbed by the police and B gave the gun to C. Once C took possession of the gun (knowing full well what it was) he committed the offence even if he did not realise it was loaded; R v Harrison [1996] CrimLR 200.

The term imitation firearm, has been defined in three different statutes:

In the Theft Act 1968 - section 10(1) (aggravated burglary) an imitation firearm is described as 'anything which has the appearance of being a firearm whether capable of being discharged or not'.

In the Firearms Act 1968 section.57(4) describes an imitation firearm as - "means any thing which has the appearance of being a firearm (other than such a weapon as is mentioned in section 5 1 B of this Act [Firearms Act 1968]). whether or not it is capable of discharging any shot, bullet or other missile.

Notes :

The key word is 'appearance'. The test is whether the thing looked like a firearm at the time when the accused actually had it with him (R v Morris & King (1984) 149 JP 60, 79 Cr App Rep 104, CA). It is ultimately for the jury to decide, what a witness believed about the object, and / or any admissions made by defendant as to his reason for carrying the article.

This was emphasised in R v Bentham [2003] All ER (D) 118 Dec, where the defendant was charged with an offence under Section 17(2) of the Firearms Act 1968. Bentham had carried out a robbery with his finger in his jacket pocket pointing outwards towards the victim. The appearance test above was used and he was found guilty at Preston Crown Court. The Court of Appeal agreed with the finding.

However this decision was overturned on February 24th 2005 at the House of Lords (R v Bentham [2005] UKHL 18) when it was decided that as the fingers were part of the person and not separate and distinct then they could never be possessed as a "thing" described by section 57(4) of the Act, and the conviction was quashed. The offence under section 17(2) was of possessing an imitation firearm not of falsely pretending to have a firearm.

Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1982 provides that this Act applies to an imitation firearm if -

a it has the appearance of being a firearm to which section 1 (firearms requiring a certificate) of the 1968 Act applies; AND

b it is so constructed or adapted as to be readily convertible into a firearm to which this section applies.

Notes :

(i) In effect the above section provides that certain imitation firearms may be classed as section 1 firearms and as such will therefore require a firearms certificate.

(ii) This definition was created because of the confusion brought about by 'replica' weapons which, it was discovered, could be converted into working firearms in some cases.

(iii) There is a defence available to anyone charged with an offence under the 1968 Act because of this provision.

I do not think that any of the above is relavent to anyone who collects firearms etc and I know I've discussed this with Giles before. In just thought I would post the definition of what offences can be committed and what the definition of an imitation firearm is and how the law can interpret such things. My only caveat on all of this is that we face more and more firearms incidents on a daily basis and you cannot be too careful.

I would suggest you had a valid reason to be in possession of the weapons, seeing as you had just brought them. Therefore, the weapons shoud be returned back to you.

Steve

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Bentham had carried out a robbery with his finger in his jacket pocket pointing outwards towards the victim. The appearance test above was used and he was found guilty at Preston Crown Court. The Court of Appeal agreed with the finding.   

However this decision was overturned on February 24th 2005 at the House of Lords (R v Bentham [2005] UKHL 18) when it was decided that as the fingers were part of the person and not separate and distinct then they could never be possessed as a "thing"

Thank goodness for the Lords. I am regularly in possession of eight of these so-called 'fingers', and would hate to be disarmed. :D

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Hi there,

They probably stopped you under this bit of legislation as you were in a public place at the time.

Section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended in January 2004 by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003), provides various offences relating to the possession of shot guns, air weapons and firearms and imitation firearms, in a public place. It states:

19 A person commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies on him) he has with him in a public place

a a loaded shot gun,

b an air weapon (whether loaded or not),

c any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with ammunition suitable for use in that firearm, or

d an imitation firearm.

Notes :

i Loaded see section 57(6)

ii The provision relating to loaded weapons only applies to shotguns. If the offender has with him/her some other firearm he need only have suitable ammunition with him to commit the offence. The possession of suitable ammunition is not part of the air weapon variation of the offence, simply having the weapon suffices.  This has the advantage that if kids are seen in public (perhaps by someone walking in the park) with an air weapon, even if they are not traced until later, the offence is still provable on those facts alone (assuming that the evidence is sound, of course).

GUILTY KNOWLEDGE

The 'guilty knowledge' which the prosecution must prove is limited to a knowledge of possession, not the nature and quality of the thing possessed.

(Bear in mind the wording in the offence is actually 'has with him' which is narrower than the legal meaning of possession. The term 'possession' is only being used here as a generic term because it is easier than repeating the actual term every time.)

Therefore, assuming s/he is in a public place -

SHOT GUN / AIR WEAPON / IMITATION FIREARM

The offender must be aware that s/he possesses the weapon. S/he does not need to know whether or not it is loaded (obviously, whether it is loaded is irrelevant to an imitation firearm and not actually necessary for the purposes of proving an air weapon offence)

OTHER FIREARM

The offender needs to be aware he possesses the weapon and some ammunition, but need not be aware that the ammunition is actually suitable for the gun (although it must be suitable in order to complete the offence).

EXAMPLES (both committed in a public place)

If an individual was handed a holdall but was unaware that it contained a .38 revolver and suitable .38 ammunition, he has not committed this offence. However, if he knew that a revolver and ammunition were in the holdall, but not that it was the correct ammunition, he has committed the offence.

B and C tried to rob a store. B had a loaded sawn-off shot gun which C knew nothing about. They were disturbed by the police and B gave the gun to C. Once C took possession of the gun (knowing full well what it was) he committed the offence even if he did not realise it was loaded; R v Harrison [1996] CrimLR 200.

The term imitation firearm, has been defined in three different statutes:

In the Theft Act 1968 - section 10(1) (aggravated burglary) an imitation firearm is described as 'anything which has the appearance of being a firearm whether capable of being discharged or not'.

In the Firearms Act 1968 section.57(4) describes an imitation firearm as - "means any thing which has the appearance of being a firearm (other than such a weapon as is mentioned in section 5 1 B of this Act [Firearms Act 1968]). whether or not it is capable of discharging any shot, bullet or other missile.

Notes :

The key word is 'appearance'. The test is whether the thing looked like a firearm at the time when the accused actually had it with him (R v Morris & King (1984) 149 JP 60, 79 Cr App Rep 104, CA).  It is ultimately for the jury to decide, what a witness believed about the object, and / or any admissions made by defendant as to his reason for carrying the article.

This was emphasised in R v Bentham [2003] All ER (D) 118 Dec, where the defendant was charged with an offence under Section 17(2) of the Firearms Act 1968. Bentham had carried out a robbery with his finger in his jacket pocket pointing outwards towards the victim. The appearance test above was used and he was found guilty at Preston Crown Court. The Court of Appeal agreed with the finding.   

However this decision was overturned on February 24th 2005 at the House of Lords (R v Bentham [2005] UKHL 18) when it was decided that as the fingers were part of the person and not separate and distinct then they could never be possessed as a "thing" described by section 57(4) of the Act, and the conviction was quashed. The offence under section 17(2) was of possessing an imitation firearm not of falsely pretending to have a firearm.

Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1982 provides that this Act applies to an imitation firearm if -

a  it has the appearance of being a firearm to which section 1 (firearms requiring a certificate) of the 1968 Act applies; AND

b  it is so constructed or adapted as to be readily convertible into a firearm to which this section applies.

Notes :

(i)  In effect the above section provides that certain imitation firearms may be classed as section 1 firearms and as such will therefore require a firearms certificate.

(ii)  This definition was created because of the confusion brought about by 'replica' weapons which, it was discovered, could be converted into working firearms in some cases.

(iii) There is a defence available to anyone charged with an offence under the 1968 Act because of this provision.

I do not think that any of the above is relavent to anyone who collects firearms etc and I know I've discussed this with Giles before. In just thought I would post the definition of what offences can be committed and what the definition of an imitation firearm is and how the law can interpret such things. My only caveat on all of this is that we face more and more firearms incidents on a daily basis and you cannot be too careful.

I would suggest you had a valid reason to be in possession of the weapons, seeing as you had just brought them. Therefore, the weapons shoud be returned back to you.

Steve

thanks for that steve

yes i had just purchased them both and was on my way home, being stopped only yards from my door, the neighbours looked quite shocked, as said i also gave the police the two deactivaition certs, and they rang the dealer who said that i had just purchased them from him.i will just be glad when i get them back off them,

thanks

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And if you have an old spec MP40 hang on to it.  Currently they are valued at around £1500 - £2000.  When they become illegal to sell on the value will only go up.

Giles,

But will it. If you cannot sell them, surely the price will plummet. (Does that make sense?)

Rich

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The theoretical value may rise, but if you can't sell them that means nothing - things are going a bit odd at the moment opinions seem to be divided between clearing out what you dont need (I have just sold a few deacs that were doublers) and stocking up with items while you still can (my group has just bought a 3" mortar). I am basically resigned to the fact any deacs I keep will be worthless but as I need them for my living history displays I have to accept the loss.

Alistair

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Giles,

But will it. If you cannot sell them, surely the price will plummet. (Does that make sense?)

Rich

Not a bit of it Rich. ;) Quite the opposite.

The talk at Beltring etc was of nothing else. Sure, you cannot openly sell them come the new law but there is to be no register and no-one knows who has what. There are hundreds of thousands of deacs in circulation.

Far be it from me to advocate any law breaking but dealing from one party to another will go on just the same - obviously not over a militaira fair table though...

The prices should hit rock bottom regarding common stuff leading to the implication of the law but rare stuff will never go down now.

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But the sellers market will be very limited as I imagine they will only risk selling to people they know - they wont be able to reach a large market as they can on here or places like Milweb.

Alistair

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But the sellers market will be very limited as I imagine they will only risk selling to people they know - they wont be able to reach a large market as they can on here or places like Milweb.

Alistair

Hi,

Just to clarify, what will then new law mean. If I bought a deact now can I keep it legally and if so will I be restricted as to how I display it both at home or in a public display. Will I need a gun cabinet. I have always wanted a webley deact for my ww1 Tank corps leather holster but I am reluctant to buy now as I am unsure of the position

Thanks

Tanks3

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The law as I understand it will stop the trade in and import of replica weapons (including deactivated guns) - if you already own them at the time the law comes in you can keep them, although I have heard a lot of concern expressed that this may just be the first step to fully outlawing them, and part of the thinking is its to remove their commercial value so that if they are outlawed and confiscated in the future it will do away with a large compensation bill. The law will also control their display in "public places" but living history groups etc are looking for clauses to be built in allowing them to continue.

Alistair

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Could it now be that more people will be joining rifle clubs or applying for collectors FACs?

Steve

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that is one of the possibilities - by making safe weapons unobtainable they will force people who do living history displays to apply for live and potentially dangerous weapons.

Alistair

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I think that the trade in deac SMLE is quite strong at the moment. There were some ridiculous prices at the show in Kent recently. But these will obviously be sold to people who will keep them for private collection. A few deac traders are going to be left with items they cannot legally shift.

The deac trade had already caused a knock-on effect on the price of active SMLEs. With so many being deactivated, there are fewer decent ones around to be bought if you actually shoot them.

With regard to the SMLEs, I think that it is a travesty that it was legally necessary to deactivate what are, essentially, antique items with a real history. The deactivation process is disappointingly destructive.

I can't remember the last time a building society was turned over by a company of re-enactors armed with deac SMLEs but I suppose there is always a chance.

Steve

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