On September 3rd 2016, the airsoft community (in the UK at least) rejoiced as Lord Shrewsbury, president of the Gun Trade Association, officially withdrew his proposed amendment to the current Policing and Crime Bill 2015/16.
The changes outlined by Shrewsbury pertained to the removal of airsoft’s exemption from the aforementioned bill – an act which would have caused immense turbulence for patrons of the sport to say the least.
To put this into perspective, if the suggestions outlined had come to fruition, any automatic airsoft guns producing more than 1 joule of energy would be treated the same as a real steel M16 in the eyes of the law.
This would make playing the sport a near-impossible feat to achieve as the use of even low-powered, airsoft guns would carry a heavy penalty for all those involved.
Possession of a section 5 firearm (a category which airsoft replicas would have fallen in to) can involve a strict punishment of 5 years prison time, meaning far more than simply an end to enjoying a Sunday skirmish.
Fortunately, Lord Shrewsbury has seen the light and acknowledged the non-lethal nature of airsoft weaponry, as well as the importance of maintaining a sport which is enjoyed by tens of thousands of players nationwide.
Chairman of UKAPU Matt Furey-King spoke of this fantastic news, stating “When asked to contribute to this campaign the response from the UK airsoft was phenomenal. You should feel proud of the good work you’ve put in.”
He also spoke about the extensive work conducted by the three main airsoft associations, UKAPU, UKARA and ATB as well as a collaborative effort from real steel shooting communities such as Firearms UK, despite their sport not being directly affected by the proposed changes.
The withdrawal of Lord Shrewsbury’s proposal arrives as the best possible outcome for airsoft players in the UK as a potential ban of the game will no longer be looming over players’ heads.
Despite this, UKAPU have expressed their lasting concerns of the Police and Crime Bill and its potential effects on the sport of airsoft.
They state it may be possible for players to fall into a section 5 firearms offence if they import an automatic airsoft RIF which is deemed to exceed acceptable energy output standards.
A similar situation may also occur if weapons are tested at the highest possible pressure settings with extremely heavy ammo.
Whilst these circumstances are extremely specific and unlikely to affect many players, it is still worth the community considering them to minimise their risk from legal action.
Finally, UKAPU stated that the withdrawal marked a final end to the case and that any communications sent to Shrewsbury, be they letters, tweets or emails should stop immediately.
The team at Abbey Supply are proud of the hard work and commitment given from all individuals involved in this development and welcomes the continued success of airsoft for many years to come.
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