It looks like the government has listened to shooters on the Offensive Weapons Bill.
The Bill returned to the House of Commons with an amendment that removes the proposed ban on high-calibre rifles. It will now proceed to the Lords and, hopefully, to Royal Assent without the ban returning. The government has said it will consult further on the issues around the use of high muzzle energy rifles.
This follows hard work by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, chair of the all party group on shooting and conservation, backed by a range of shooting organisations.
Sir Geoffrey brought forward an amendment that was then signed by 74 MPs, after organisations campaigned to ensure members made their views known.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said: “I welcome the government’s decision. It is essential that legislation should be proportionate, based on the facts and consulted on with stakeholders. The Home Secretary is right to announce further consultations and has my full support for securing an evidence-based result on this and other firearms issues.”
Christopher Graffius, BASC’s executive director of communications and public affairs, said: “I would like to thank the MPs as well as members of shooting associations who took the time to contact their MPs and supported our work in parliament on this issue. We look forward to a constructive consultation and a sensible result.”
The Countryside Alliance took the opportunity to remind politicians to focus on the real issues affecting firearms owners. Chief executive Tim Bonner said: “While this is a welcome move from the Home Office, it cannot be allowed to mask more serious concerns about the firearms licensing system.
“In particular we have been in prolonged conversation with Home Office Ministers and officials about the chaos gripping the firearms licensing medical procedures. The refusal of some GPs to engage with the medical procedures agreed by all parties and introduced in 2014, and the increasing tendency of some Police Forces to ignore Home Office guidelines, have created a post code lottery.
“Those applying for firearms licences are treated in an entirely different way depending on the GP they are registered with, and which police force area they live in. This is simply not acceptable.”