A new consultation document on firearms law backs the creation of a Firearms Code.
Releasing the document, the Law Commission said the current law is “deeply problematic and in need of reform,” and underlined its recommendations to make it more comprehensible and accessible.
The Commission identified a number of problems with existing law, including better defining terms such as “weapon”, “lethal”, “antique” and “component part”.
It suggested that the law could be tightened with regard to imitation firearms, saying the law had failed to keep pace with technological advances in this regard: “The test for determining whether an imitation firearm can be converted into a live firearm originates from 1982. Our aim is to ensure the law reflects the ease with which firearms might be converted in the modern world.”
It also made the case for more widespread changes to the law: “It is necessary to consider more fundamental reform that would not only simplify the law, but also provide an opportunity to remedy its deficiencies and ensure it is fit for purpose in the modern era.
“We provisionally propose that codification of the law would be preferable to mere consolidation. This would provide the opportunity to improve the law’s accessibility and consistency.
“The deficiencies with the current law have tangible cost implications. Codification would provide the opportunity to make the law more efficient with the aim of reducing the costs associated with regulation of firearms.”
This code could potentially take in firearms licensing. “Codification would present the opportunity to rationalise the entire legislative landscape in England and Wales that governs the acquisition and possession of firearms,” the document said. “It would also ensure there was harmony and consistency between those provisions that relate to licensing and those that relate to other matters.”
Professor David Ormerod QC, Law Commissioner for criminal law, said: “The law must strike the right balance between protecting the public from firearms misuse and the needs of licensed firearms users.
“The present law on firearms is found in over 30 pieces of legislation. It contains numerous illogicalities and inconsistencies, and can be difficult to use. The Law Commission believes there is a strong case for bringing all firearms legislation under a single Act, to clarify the law, make it easier to use and future-proof it against technological change. We are asking for evidence to support this case from all those who legitimately own and use firearms, and those who investigate and prosecute their criminal use.”
The consultation closes on 21 September. Responses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.