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The consultation closes on September  21 before final recommendations are made to the Government early in 2016.

Stakeholders were asked to voice their opinions on the Commission's recent 'scoping' paper during a symposium at the University of Westminster Law School on September 8.

One of the panel discussions at the symposium concerned the failure of the Firearms Act 1968 to define an 'antique firearm' in law.

Representatives from the police said they were now encountering antique firearms with greater frequency - evidence that criminals were exploiting the legal grey areas that surround this issue.  


The Law Commission has suggested a number of ways the term 'antique firearm' could be defined in law.

Four solutions are proposed, two focusing on the age of the firearm - for instance, the law could specify that an antique firearm is one that is over 100 years old - and two on the firearm's functionality. These concern loading mechanisms, ignition systems and caliber size.

Derek Stimpson of the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association, one of the stakeholders representing the antique firearm trade at the symposium, stated that a date might not be the best way to define 'antique firearm' and suggested that enshrining the Home Office's obsolete cartridge list into law would be a sensible way forward.

The commission also propose that sales of antique firearms be recorded and that transactions take place by electronic means.

Karl Laird of the Law Commission told ATG: "We believe this is a way not only of minimising the attractiveness of antique firearms to those with criminal intent, but it would also provide a method of tracing antique firearms when they are stolen."

Responses to the consultation can be sent to:   firearms@lawcommission.gsi.gov.uk