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Law tightens on imitation firearms 10 September 2007

NEW laws aimed at tightening control of imitation firearms on the Isle of Man come into force on Friday, September 14.

The Criminal Justice, Police and Courts Act contains various provisions, including an amendment to the Firearms Act 1947 making it an offence to possess a firearm or imitation with the intent to cause fear of violence. The new Act also amends the Firearms Act 1968 to make it an offence to carry imitation firearms in public without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

Home Affairs political Member George Waft MLC said:

‘There have been several instances in the past few weeks where young people have put themselves in danger by having ball-bearing guns in public. In most cases the BB guns have the appearance of a genuine firearm. Police are called out by concerned members of the public and when experienced firearms officers struggle to differentiate between imitation firearms and genuine weapons they are treated as the real thing. We need to stop young people using such ‘toys’ as fashion accessories to impress their peers and that’s what prompted Tynwald to support these changes to Manx law.’

Police are already in discussion with responsible retailers and sports clubs over the law change and will increase publicity to highlight the dangers to young people. Anyone convicted of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence could face up to 10 years in prison.

Firearms officer Sergeant Terry Stephen said:

‘Recent incidents of people causing fear by having BB guns in public have been dealt with under public order laws. This new Act makes it a more specific offence with tough penalties.’

Although the new laws do not make it illegal to own a BB gun or imitation firearm, concerned parents or owners who wish to get rid of any unwanted imitation weapons can take them to a police station for safe disposal.

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