An obsolete calibre revolver, featured as part of the BBC’s 'Panorama' programme.

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The programme argued the Policing and Crime Act (2017) allows criminals to buy ‘obsolete’ calibre antique guns and bring them back into use with the manufacture of new ammunition.

Ian Barclay, acting chairman at the Vintage Arms Association, complained to the BBC about elements of the programme and told ATG: “The law as it stands is very robust. Any change in the law will only affect genuine collectors, not criminals.”

He said values for the type of antique revolvers recently spotlighted by National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) have fallen.

Simon West, director of the Gun Trade Association, concurred. He told ATG: “We have some of the strictest gun controls in the world. It should be ensured that existing laws are implemented and enforced rather than needing a new law.”

He added: “I am very much in favour of more prosecutions and making deterrents for those who commit crime. The trade could be more engaged, be vigilant and should report their suspicions to ensure public safety. But we are acting to protect the trade and are lobbying against law changes.”

Curio exemptions

Obsolete calibre guns kept as an ‘ornament or curio’ are exempt from firearm laws.

Panorama cited Gloucestershire dealer Paul Edmunds, 66, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison last year.

He was making ammunition for ‘antique’ weapons.

NABIS argues that antique guns on the obsolete calibre list (where ammunition is no longer manufactured) should be restricted as they are being bought by criminals. NABIS wants five types of calibre antique revolvers removed from the list.

The Home Office is planning changes to the Policing and Crime Act this autumn. It will “enshrine in law a new definition of antique firearms, ensuring older weapons that could still pose a danger to the public are licensed”.