HC Deb 02 December 1971 vol 827 cc628-9
2. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken by his Department to control the sale of replica firearms in view of the increasing use of all sorts of weapons in crimes of violence.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Richard Sharples)

A replica capable of firing would be subject to control under the Firearms Act, 1968. On the information before my right hon. Friend, he is not satisfied that it is necessary or practicable to control other replicas.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Is my hon. Friend aware that these pistols and machine guns, which are exact working models of the real thing, are freely available? I have been informed by one gunsmith that they are capable of firing up to 12 bullets before the barrel comes to pieces. At a time when crimes of violence are on the increase, should we allow these weapons to come into this country and be put on sale as freely as they are because no one, faced with such a weapon, will ask whether a Luger pistol is the real thing or a replica?

Mr. Sharples

A replica which is capable of firing is subject to control under the Firearms Act, 1968. So far as other replicas are concerned, the difficulty lies in defining what is a replica—for example, whether a child's toy pistol is a replica. Surely the right course is to concentrate on the use to which the weapon or replica is put. The penalties for misuse are being considerably increased under the Criminal Justice Bill.

Dr. Stuttaford

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, from the letters I have sent to him on the subject together with Press cuttings, the sale of these mock firearms has caused a lot of anxiety to sub-postmasters and others at risk?

Mr. Sharples

Yes, and that is the reason why steps have been taken in the Criminal Justice Bill to increase the penalties considerably.