New deactivation law comes into force
From 2 May 2017, the new legal provisions on firearms in the Police and Crime Act 2017, prohibit the sale, loan or transfer of any firearm that has not been deactivated to the current Home Office Technical standard.
This standard is essentially the EU standard with a number of additional UK processes and can be subject to further revision in the future. The new law does not affect ownership of firearms deactivated to prior standards, as long as you have the relevant certificate, but prohibits the transfer by sale, swap, gifting or inheritance of pre-April 2016 deactivated firearms. This includes all firearms deactivated to any of the previous UK standards, from 1988 onwards.
The same amendment also states that, ‘It is an offence for a person who owns or claims to own defectively deactivated weapon (ie not to the specification) to: (a) make the weapon available for sale or as a gift to another person or (b) to sell it or give it (as a gift) to another person.’
However, owners of any old-spec deactivated weapons can sell or gift them to anyone outside the EU, and also sell or gift them to museums that have a relevant firearms licence. Museums are also excluded from the scope of the new offence provided they have a museum firearm licence.
The offence for breaking the law in England is up to six months imprisonment, or a fine, or both, until section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 comes into force, when it increases to 12 months. In Scotland it’s 12 months from the start. If the law is broken with, essentially, criminal intent or use, the custodial sentence increases to five years.
In effect, such items are locked to the current owner and if that person passes away, then any deactivated firearms in the estate will have to be subjected to current deactivation specification processes in order to be inherited, or be surrendered to the Police by the estate.
Collections of pre-2016 deactivated weapons will be effectively rendered unsellable within the EU, unless the owner is willing to carry out the draconian sabotage to their collection to meet the new specifications.