HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 cc103-4W
Mr. Wiggin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps the Government are taking to ensure that deactivated guns are not reactivated; [73854]

(2) what the Government's role has been since 1997 in deactivating guns; if he will make a statement on the process of deactivating guns; and where such guns are stored once deactivated. [73855]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth

Under section 8 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 any gun may be considered to be deactivated and thus no longer a firearm if it bears a proof mark to that effect and has had a certificate of deactivation issued by one of the two Proof Houses. To assist in this process the Home Office issued a set of specifications in 1989 against which a deactivated firearm could be compared. These were subsequently revised and more stringent specifications have applied since 1995. There is no substantial evidence to suggest that guns deactivated to these later standards are being successfully restored to working order.

The Proof Houses have the authority to reject any deactivated firearms submitted to them which do not conform with the approved specifications. However, section 8 is only an evidential provision and does not preclude the possibility that a firearm which has been deactivated in some other manner may also have ceased to be a firearm within the meaning of section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968. In the event of a prosecution it would be for the courts to decide whether or not this was the case.

There are no legal requirements regarding the storage of deactivated firearms.

We are looking in conjunction with the European Commission at the need to establish stricter controls on deactivation standards throughout Europe.

Forward to