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Updates due to the 2017 act will “enshrine in law a new definition of antique firearms, ensuring older weapons that could still pose a danger to the public are licensed”.

Public consultation

The change follows a public consultation that ended in December 2018.

The Home Office is seeking to define an ‘antique firearm’ in law for the first time – a definition based not simply on age but by whether or not a gun uses an obsolete cartridge type or firing mechanism. The definition will stipulate the “types of cartridge or propulsion systems that render a firearm antique”. Already, under the Firearms Act (1968) and the Gun Barrel Proof Acts (1868 to 1978), it is an offence to sell an unproofed or out-of-proof firearm (proof checking is necessary to ensure the firearm is in shootable condition), while since April 2016 it has been illegal to sell a deactivated weapon unless it has a current EU certificate.

Separately, the offensive weapons bill is also due to become an act of Parliament. The bill proposes making it illegal to send ‘bladed products’ to residential addresses. This will include the posting of antique swords and daggers.

Antiques have largely been exempted from offensive weapons legislation in the past but this bill includes no such provision. Businesses that operate from residential addresses, however, will be exempt.

A Home Office spokesman said both law changes are “passing through Parliament” and it hopes to have them enacted as soon as possible.