ENTERTAINMENT

Gap exploited by criminals to use ancient weapons in closed crimes, making 26,000 firearms illegal


The loophole exploited by criminals to use ancient weapons in crimes will be closed, making 26,000 firearms illegal

  • Seven types of ammunition that are no longer assigned to the “Antique Firearms” category
  • Legal exception to allow collectors and dealers to trade in old firearms
  • It has been exploited by criminals and six deaths related to ancient weapons since 2007

A loophole in the law exploited by criminals who use ancient weapons in crimes is to be closed, making 26,000 firearms illegal.

Seven types of ammunition are no longer classified in the "Ancient Firearms" category, which means that weapons that use them require a special license.

The legal exemption was intended to allow collectors and dealers to trade in old firearms, but it has been exploited by criminals and six deaths have been linked to antique weapons since 2007.

A loophole in the law exploited by criminals who use antique weapons in crimes is to be closed, making 26,000 firearms illegal (file picture).

According to the National Ballistics Intelligence Service, the number of antique firearms seized at the crime scene has increased dramatically in recent years.

There were only four restores in 2007, which rose to 97 in 2016 and stayed high – 69 were discovered last year.

Closing the void will make it easier for police to crack down on rogue dealers like Paul Edmunds, 69, who turned his Gloucestershire village house into an ammunition factory linked to more than 100 crimes, including three murders.

Edmunds was found guilty of conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition in November 2017 after delivering a banned Colt pistol in a deadly London nightclub and ammunition for two murders in Birmingham.

Many of his weapons, including a 19th century St. Etienne and Smith & Wesson, were legally brought to Britain as collectibles and could be classified as antiques as they were more than 100 years old and no longer used ammunition.

Police Minister Kit Malthouse said it was vital that dangerous weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

Seven types of ammunition are no longer classified in the "Antique Firearms" category, which means that weapons that use them require a special license (archive image used).

Seven types of ammunition are no longer classified in the "Antique Firearms" category, which means that weapons that use them require a special license (archive image used).

"Britain has some of the toughest gun laws in the world – we will do everything in our power to make sure it stays that way," he added.

Existing owners of the guns affected by the regulations can apply for a gun certificate and sell or deactivate the guns before the law changes.

The maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm is five years in prison.

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