Antique guns are real guns. The provisions of the Firearms Act 1968 do not apply to antique firearms sold, transferred, purchased, acquired or possessed as ‘curiosities or ornaments’. There is no definition of ‘antique’ and no definition of ‘curiosities or ornaments’ in legislation. No licence is required. Home Office Guidance provides a list of pre-1939 guns which are to be regarded as ‘antiques’.
IDENTIFICATION Because antique guns are real it can be impossible to tell without close examination if a gun being brandished during an incident is capable of firing live ammunition or if it is an ‘antique’, imitation, airsoft, replica, BB, toy or paintball gun or an airgun. 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 ‘antiques’, imitations and other non-licensed guns which look like handguns.
1. ANTIQUE GUNS – FATALITIES
Antique guns are responsible for a number of deaths including homicide, domestic violence and suicides.
2. ANTIQUE GUNS - VIOLENT CRIME
Antique guns and other non-licensed guns could be used to enable crimes including armed robbery, domestic violence, and drug-related crime. Victims fear they are about to die and the consequences are traumatic and can be long lasting. Incidents can require police investigation hospital treatment, and court costs. Victims and families endure pain and suffering, time off work, loss of income and disruption to daily life. Antique gun crime is paid for by individuals, the community and the taxpayer. (See 5)
3. ANTIQUE GUNS – CRIMINALS BANNED FROM OWNING GUNS CAN STILL BUY ANTIQUE GUNS
From July 2014:-
- If a person receives a suspended sentence of 3 months or more they will not be able to purchase or possess a firearm or ammunition for a period of 5 years from the second day after the sentence.
- A person who has served or received a criminal sentence will not be able to possess an antique firearm.
- The prohibition applies to anyone who has received a custodial sentence of more than 3 years of has served a custodial sentence, or received a suspended sentence of between 3 months and 3 years.
It is not clear how the buying and selling of antique guns is monitored to ensure compliance with the above prohibitions. We are not aware of the existence of a database of those who have served or received prison sentences or a database of those possessing antique guns. Under these circumstances it is likely that criminals banned by the courts from possessing guns, and those banned from possessing guns by virtue of having served prison sentences, will still acquire antique and other non-licensed guns online from international suppliers, UK dealers and private sellers, forums, websites and magazines, no background checks are required.
4. ANTIQUE GUNS – MENTAL HEALTH, ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Antique guns can be bought by individuals suffering from mental health issues and those involved in alcohol and drug abuse, no background checks are required.
5. ANTIQUE GUNS - COST TO THE PUBLIC
Incidents of antique gun crime has cost implications for society and for individuals in terms of police time, hospital and other health services, the judiciary, insurance, local authority services, time off work, disruption to daily life, commerce, industry and transport. Antique gun crime is paid for by individuals, the community and the taxpayer.
6. ANTIQUE GUNS – IRRESPONSIBLE STORAGE AND THEFT
Unlike licensed guns antique guns are not subject to any safe storage conditions. They are left at locations with inadequate security. As handguns become increasingly difficult to access the criminal market for antique guns has increased and homes known to contain antique guns become targets for burglary.
Visit ‘Gun Law’ pages for details of legislation.