The primary responsibility of the British Airsoft Club will be the registration of legitimate airsoft skirmishers to comply with the provisions of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, Statutory Instrument No 2606, Arms and Ammunition, and the defence outlined in section 36-38 of Home Office circular 31/2007.
Expert Legal Opinion
The BAC have commissioned Mr Nicholas Doherty to offer his expert legal opinion on the defence provided by the BAC to airsoft retailers of RIF and on the robustness of the BAC systems. Mr Doherty is the leading barrister regarding firearms law in the United Kingdom. He specialises in firearms licensing, firearms related businesses and criminal prosecutions involving firearms. In addition, Mr Doherty is co-author of the ‘The British Firearms Law Handbook’ written in 2011. This is the leading work for lawyers and the public regarding firearms law and licensing in the UK.
Mr Doherty states the following:
“Membership of the BAC provides a complete defence to retailers of Realistic Imitation Firearms who sell such items, in accordance with the provisions of Section 37 of the Act and the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (Realistic Imitation Firearms) Regulations 2007.
Given my analysis of the law…I have no hesitation in saying that membership of the BAC is more than adequate to satisfy the requirements of these Regulations and provides Retailers with a complete defence from allegations brought Under Section 36 of the Act.
The British Airsoft Club online registration scheme provides adequate safeguards to ensure that only genuine airsoft users who intend to take part in permitted activities within the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 can become members, and the Club’s scheme complies in all respects with the relevant legislation.”
Mr Nicholas Doherty, Barrister
The Chambers of Timothy Raggatt QC
4 Kings Bench Walk, London
So what does the VCR Act 2006 and the Home Office circular 31/2007 actually say?
Section 36 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 made it an offence to manufacture, import or sell a realistic imitation firearm. However, the Act and the-Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (Realistic Imitation Firearms) Regulations 2007, allowed specific defences for the manufacture, import and sale of realistic imitation firearms.
The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (Realistic Imitation Firearms) Regulations 2007
Defences to an offence under section 36 of the 2006 Act or under paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 to that Act
3. (1) It shall be a defence in proceedings for an offence under section 36 of the 2006 Act or under paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 to that Act for the person charged with the offence to show that his conduct was for the purpose only of making the imitation firearm in question available for one or more of the purposes specified in paragraph (2).
(2) Those purposes are—
(a) the organisation and holding of permitted activities for which public liability insurance is held in relation to liabilities to third parties arising from or in connection with the organisation and holding of those activities;
(b) the purposes of display at a permitted event.
The Regulations define ‘permitted activities’ as, ‘the actinq out of military or law enforcement scenarios for the purposes of recreation.’
VIOLENT CRIME REDUCTION ACT 2006 (COMMENCEMENT No3) ORDER 2007
21. For airsoft skirmishing, the guidelines suggest that:
• new players must play at least 3 times in a period of not less than 2 months the 2 months before being offered membership;
• membership cards with a photograph and recognised format will be issued for production to retailers;
• a central database will be set up for retailers to cross-check a purchaser’s details; and
• a member’s entry on the database will be deleted if unused for 12 months.
(Home Office (09/10/2013): The above is not a statutory requirement but is a process that assists retailers in checking that purchasers are genuine airsoft skirmishers so that the defence outlined under the act can apply. The BAC fully adheres to these guidelines.)
22. The defence for airsoft skirmishing can apply to individual players because their purchase of realistic imitation firearms for this purpose is considered part of the “holding” of a skirmishing event.