A hand held imitation gun firing blank ammunition which produces a gunshot noise but does not discharge any projective from the barrel. They are used to signify the start of track races etc. and are used in re-enactments, theatre and TV productions. No licence is required. See ‘Gun Law’ page.
In 2006 the bright orange Olympic BMM starting pistol became a prohibited weapon.( See 5 below)
IDENTIFICATION - Because starting pistols/blank firers look like real guns it can be impossible to tell without close examination if a gun being brandished during an incident fires blanks or live ammunition or is an airgun, airsoft, replica, BB, toy or paintball gun. Victims of armed crime are traumatised and not surprisingly unable to identify the gun being used to assault them. Media reporting is unreliable and unless guns are fired or recovered and can be authenticated they are categorised as ‘unidentified’. Many press reports which refer to ‘handguns’ are likely to involve starting pistols/blank firers, imitations and other non-licensed guns which look like handguns.
1. STARTING PISTOLS/BLANK FIRERS - VIOLENT CRIME
Starting pistols/blank firers and other non-licensed guns are used to enable crimes including armed robbery, domestic violence, drug related incidents, intimidation, threat, and drive by shootings. Victims understabdably are unable to identify the gun being used to assault them and unless it is fired or recovered it is categorised as "unidentified". Victims fear they are about to die and the consequences are traumatic and can be long lasting.` Starting pistol/blank firers gun crime is paid for by individuals the community and the tax payer. (See 4)
2. STARTING PISTOLS/BLANK FIRERS – CRIMINALS BANNED FROM OWNING GUNS CAN STILL BUY STARTING PISTOLS/BLANK FIRERS
Criminals banned by the courts from possessing guns, and those banned from possession guns by virtue of having served prison sentences, can still buy starting pistols/blank firers, imitations and other non-licensed guns online, from international suppliers, UK dealers and private sellers, forums websites, newspapers and magazines, no background checks are required.
3. STARTING PISTOLS/BLANK FIRERS - MENTAL HEALTH, ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Starting pistols/blank firers can be bought by individuals suffering from mental health issues and those involved in alcohol and drug abuse, no background checks are required.
4. STARTING PISTOLS/BLANK FIRERS – COST TO THE PUBLIC
Incidents involving the use of starting pistols/blank firers have cost implications for society and for individuals in terms of Police investigation, hospital treatment, court costs, insurance and repairs. Victims and families endure pain and suffering, time off work, loss of income and disruption to daily life. Starting pistol/blank firer gun crime is paid for by individuals, the community and the taxpayer.
5. STARTING PISTOLS/BLANK FIRERS – CAPABLE OF CONVERSION TO DEADLY FIREARMS
A large number of Olympic BMM starting pistols have been converted to fire live ammunition. Originally bright orange these guns had been painted black and were involved in a number of crimes including robberies and attempted murders. In 2006 the bright orange Olympic BMM starting pistol became a prohibited weapon.
6. STARTING PISTOLS/BLANK FIRERS – IRRESPONSIBLE STORAGE AND THEFT
Unlike licensed guns starting pistols/blank firers are not subject to any safe storage conditions. They are left in homes, sheds and vehicles where security is inadequate and they are stolen by petty criminals.
See ‘Gun Law’ pages.