UKAPU: Changes to UK firearms law- PCB 2015-16

Matt Furey-King from the UKAPU has an update on the proposed changes to the Firearms Act following the law commission report:

Although the law commission firearms law report was released only two months ago, the Policing and Crime Bill 2015-16 has had its first reading in the UK parliament.

In simple terms, this bill will (amongst many other things) specify the muzzle energy threshold which defines an airsoft gun from an air rifle. In a way it sets legal power limits for airsoft (1.3J, or 375fps with a .20g BB, for fully automatics. 2.5J, or 520fps with a .20g BB, for semi and single action). Previously this was a grey area in UK law. Local legislation will still apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.


“This Government Bill was presented to Parliament on Wednesday 10 February 2016. This is known as the first reading and there was no debate on the Bill at this stage.

The date for this Bill’s second reading debate has yet to be announced.

If the bill passes second reading and is committed to a public bill committee the membership of the committee will be published in Votes and Proceedings and posted on this page under ‘Commons Public Bill Committee’. The soonest this can be is the Thursday following second reading of the bill, but it may be later.”

Whilst we welcome legislation which clears up the legal position of airsoft, we are sceptical of some of the wording of the bill. No airsoft replica is ‘only’ capable of discharging plastic projectiles. All of them can fire steel and glass BBs. This fact could arguably make the airsoft exception worthless as no airsoft replica could meet the requirements.

Contrary to the law commission report (based on our feedback), they have also ruled 8mm airsoft out of the exception.

We are still seeking clarification of the position of variable power devices such as HPA driven replicas, which can well exceed the specified 1.3J threshold if desired.

UK Airsoft Players Union intends to, at a minimum, submit evidence during the committee stage of the process. Please keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates

Matt Furey-King, Chairman

Relevant sections of the bill;

Firearms Act 1968: meaning of “firearm” etc.

(1)The Firearms Act 1968 is amended as follows.

(2)In section 57 (interpretation), in subsection (1), for the words from the beginning to the end of paragraph (c) substitute—

“(1)In this Act, the expression “firearm” means—

(a)a lethal barrelled weapon (see subsection (1B));

(b)a prohibited weapon;

(c)a relevant component part in relation to a lethal barrelled

weapon or a prohibited weapon (see subsection (1C));

(d)an accessory to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited

weapon where the accessory is designed or adapted to diminish

the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon;”.

(3)In that section, before subsection (2) insert—

“(1B)In subsection (1)(a), “lethal barrelled weapon” means a barrelled weapon of any description from which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic energy of more than one joule at the muzzle of the weapon, can be discharged.

(1C)Subsection (1) is subject to section 57A (exception for airsoft guns).”

(4)In that section, after subsection (1C) (as inserted by subsection (3) above)


“(1D)For the purposes of subsection (1)(c), each of the following items is a

relevant component part in relation to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon—

(a)a barrel, chamber or cylinder,

(b)a frame, body or receiver,

(c)a breech block, bolt or other mechanism for containing the

pressure of discharge at the rear of a chamber,

but only where the item is capable of being used as a part of a lethal

barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon.”

(5)After section 57 insert—

“57AException for airsoft guns

(1)An “airsoft gun” is not to be regarded as a firearm for the purposes of this Act.

(2)An “airsoft gun” is a barrelled weapon of any description from which only a small plastic missile, with kinetic energy at the muzzle of the weapon that doesn’t exceed the permitted level, can be discharged.

(3)“Small plastic missile” means a missile that—

(a)is made wholly or partly from plastics, and

(b)does not exceed 6 millimetres in diameter.

(4)The permitted kinetic energy level is—

(a)in the case of a weapon which is designed or adapted so that

two or more missiles can be discharged successively without

repeated pressure on the trigger, 1.3 joules;

(b)in any other case, 2.5 joules.”



On this day..

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