CONVERTED GUNS – Guns modified by criminals converting imitation non-licensed guns into powerful guns capable of firing live ammunition.
DEACTIVATED GUNS – Guns of any type having a proof house mark from either the London or Birmingham proof houses and issued with a deactivation certificate, and therefore presumed to be incapable of discharging bullets or shot.
REACTIVATED GUNS – Formerly deactivated guns brought back to live firing capability.
Deactivation specifications were first laid down by the Home Office in 1989. Specifications have since been revised to make reactivation less likely, most recently in 2010 following incidents of weapons deactivated to early less rigorous standards being reactivated and used in fatal handgun shootings. The new specifications are not retrospective. Guns known to be capable of reactivation remain available to anyone over the age of 18 without any background checks.
See ‘Gun Law’ pages.
IDENTIFICATION Because deactivated guns are real guns it can be impossible to tell without close examination if a gun being brandished during an incident is capable of firing live ammunition or whether it is a deactivated, 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 deactivated, replica, imitations, airguns* and other non-licensed guns.
*The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill
The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2015 and received the Royal Assent in August 2015. Under the provisions of the Act it will be an offence for a person to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland without holding an air weapon certificate.