Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997
|Long title||An Act to extend the class of prohibited weapons under the Firearms Act 1968 to include small-calibre pistols.|
|Citation||1997 c. 64|
|Introduced by||Jack Straw|
|Territorial extent||England and Wales; Scotland|
|Royal assent||27 November 1997|
|Commencement||17 December 1997,|
1 February 1998
|Relates to||Firearms Act 1968, Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997|
Status: Current legislation
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Text of the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.|
The Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 was the second of two Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1997 that amended the regulation of firearms within Great Britain. It was introduced by the newly elected Labour government of Tony Blair. The other Act was the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997.
The act was created in response to the Snowdrop Petition following the Dunblane Massacre. The previous Conservative government had followed the recommendations of the Cullen Report on the massacre and introduced the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 that banned "high calibre" handguns, greater than .22 calibre (5.6 mm). This new (No. 2) act further banned the private possession of all cartridge ammunition handguns, regardless of calibre.
The only handguns still allowed following the ban were:
- Antique and muzzle-loading black-powder guns
- Guns of historic interest whose ammunition is no longer available ("Section 7.1" weapons)
- Guns of historic interest with current calibres ("Section 7.3" weapons)[note 1]
- Air pistols[note 2]
- Guns which fall outside the Home Office definition of "handguns".[note 3]
- Pistols used by hunters for humane dispatch
- The Act does not extend to Northern Ireland, where firearms regulations differ due to the Troubles. Northern Ireland law allows pistols for use as personal protection weapons, mainly by retired police or prison officers, but also prominent figures who were considered at risk.
Effect on gun crime
The number of recorded firearms offences in the United Kingdom increased significantly after the law entered force. Excluding offences with air weapons, firearms offences peaked at 11,088 in 2005/2006, compared to only 4,904 in 1997. The number of offences involving firearms subsequently declined, but the 6,492 offences recorded in the year ending March 2018 is still a greater number than that in 1997. Handguns remain the most common kind of firearm used in crime in the UK, with 2,847 offences in the year ending March 2018.
- Guns of historic interest, are ones that were typically manufactured before the year 1919. Since so-called "Section 7.3" historic weapons use currently available ammunition, they must be kept at a secure designated site such as the Bisley Camp, in Surrey.
- Air pistols are legally required not to exceed a muzzle energy of 6 ft·lbf (8.1 J).
- Weapons not treated as "handguns". This exception allows National Smallbore Rifle Association (NSRA) "long arms" and long-barreled handguns of both small- and full-bore. Larger firearms, whose barrel length or overall firearm length exceeds that of a handgun are treated as rifles for legal purposes.
- "Hansard, Vol 294 Col 851". 1997-05-22. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
- "The Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 (Commencement) Order 1997 (No. 3114 (c.116))". 1997-12-17. Retrieved 2008-05-28.