Scotland Yard has revealed to the Law Commission a loophole which has allowed criminals to carry out shootings using lawfully obtained weapons. Criminals in Scotland and England have exploited the loophole in the law which has allowed them to possess weapons under an exemption to firearms legislation that was intended to benefit collectors of antique weapons.
In a consultation document recently published by the Law Commission, the authors warned of a growing “threat to public safety”, with new evidence from Scotland Yard cited prominently. Although the majority of the murders took place in London, there have been a growing number of similar shootings carried out in Scotland, including Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Police ballistics experts were cited as saying that three recent murders in London were “likely to have involved the discharge of an ‘old’ firearm”, and another eight were also considered to have involved supposedly “obsolete” antique weapons.
The Law Commission consultation warns that, “… criminals are able to exploit the loophole that allows the sale and ownership of these original lethal purpose obsolete calibre firearms to be held as ‘curiosities or ornaments’,” and spells out the growing menace that is the direct result of criminals being able to get their hands on antique or “obsolete” weapons with ease due to the loophole in the law.
Of “particular concern” was the fact that guns for which ammunition is still available, like the 1940 Lanchester sub-machine gun, can still be legally purchased and possessed as an antique.
According to Professor David Ormerod, who has proposed reforms, “The law must strike the right balance between protecting the public from firearms misuse and the needs of licensed firearms users. We are seeking to identify opportunities in the law to maximise public safety and minimise the risk of potentially fatal weapons falling into the wrong hands.”