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Is this a firearm?

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Is this a firearm?

Postby shootist » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:53 pm

https://hunters-knives.co.uk/crossbows/crosman-airbow/crosman-benjamin-pioneer-airbow.html

Image

It's not very clear, so I'll try to explain it. Basically it's like an air rifle, but instead of firing pellets, it fires arrows which fit over a slim barrel. A bit like blowing the wrapper off of a straw.

The thing is, it's bloody lethal. When looking around the internet I saw a video where one was used to kill a full grown bison. It took to arrows and the scummy Tonto wannabes were standing chatting while the beast was still dying in the background. This in the USA where a pistol could have been used to dispatch the beast. Bastards! I would also be reasonably certain that arrows from it would easily pass though Kevlar body armour.

But, back to the law. It's marketed as not needing a licence in the UK because it's not a firearm. Personally, I think it would be. A firearm is a lethal barrelled weapon. This thing is undoubtedly lethal, it is undoubtedly a weapon, and it has a barrel as an integral part of it's mechanism. The only point to consider is that the arrow goes over the barrel rather than inside it. As air is used to propel the arrow it is useful to know that the advertising blurb accords this weapon as having a 'muzzle energy' of 160 ft/lb energy.

A second issue would be whether it would be legal to use this to hunt in the UK. The Wildlife and Countryside Act prohibits hunting with bows (IIRC) but this thing, in spite of the marketing, is not a bow, at least IMO. While I hunt with firearms I cannot accept that hunting with arrows can be humane where appropriate firearms are available. Hopefully the Home Office will stamp on it before too many people spend their money on it.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:08 am

I would expect the law to apply the duck test.

shootist wrote:A firearm is a lethal barrelled weapon.


You say that clearly and confidently, and I defer to your expertise in this area.

This thing is undoubtedly lethal, it is undoubtedly a weapon, and it has a barrel as an integral part of it's mechanism. The only point to consider is that the arrow goes over the barrel rather than inside it.


What argument do you suppose takes this item outside of the definition you have given us?

As air is used to propel the arrow it is useful to know that the advertising blurb accords this weapon as having a 'muzzle energy' of 160 ft/lb energy.


Is that a typo? Or is it gun club gibberish? You cannot measure energy in ft/lb. I'm actually struggling to think of anything you'd measure in ft/lb, but it has not been a good day.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act prohibits hunting with bows (IIRC) but this thing, in spite of the marketing, is not a bow, at least IMO.

This is your field, but I thought a bow was called a bow because of the bit that bows... This is not a bow.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby atticus » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:08 am

The answer to the headline question will be found by detailed scrutiny of the definition(s) of "firearm" in the various statutes regulating firearms, followed by examination of this thing to see whether it comes within such definition(s).

If the concern is that this thing exploits a loophole, then the better course may be to draw it to the attention of the relevant authorities, so that steps may be taken to close that loophole.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:25 am

shootist wrote:Hopefully the Home Office will stamp on it before too many people spend their money on it.

Since your concern here appears to be a concern for their consumer rights, I suggest that if it is sold as a not-firearm when it is in fact a firearm, then it is not fit for purpose.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby shootist » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:31 am

Hairyloon wrote:
This thing is undoubtedly lethal, it is undoubtedly a weapon, and it has a barrel as an integral part of it's mechanism. The only point to consider is that the arrow goes over the barrel rather than inside it.


What argument do you suppose takes this item outside of the definition you have given us?


I can't think of one, which is one of the reasons why I'm asking here.

Hairyloon wrote:
As air is used to propel the arrow it is useful to know that the advertising blurb accords this weapon as having a 'muzzle energy' of 160 ft/lb energy.


Is that a typo? Or is it gun club gibberish? You cannot measure energy in ft/lb. I'm actually struggling to think of anything you'd measure in ft/lb, but it has not been a good day.


If it's gibberish then it's Home Office gibberish. To be owned without the need for a firearms certificate an air rifle must not be capable of exceeding 12 ft/lb. To shoot large species deer in England and Wales the firearm used must, by law, exceed 1,700 ft/lb energy. The safety certification on the rifle range I use limits each of the three ranges we have by the muzzle energy in ft/lb (900 ft/lb on the shortest range)

Hairyloon wrote:
The Wildlife and Countryside Act prohibits hunting with bows (IIRC) but this thing, in spite of the marketing, is not a bow, at least IMO.

This is your field, but I thought a bow was called a bow because of the bit that bows... This is not a bow.


I agree.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby shootist » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:34 am

atticus wrote:The answer to the headline question will be found by detailed scrutiny of the definition(s) of "firearm" in the various statutes regulating firearms, followed by examination of this thing to see whether it comes within such definition(s).


I think I've done that and I believe it is a firearm. I was hoping for some perhaps more educated opinions (non binding, no liabilities to be incurred, not advice, all disclaimers ever written apply) on this conundrum.

Basically, to be a lethal barrelled weapon does the missile it ejects have to travel along the inside of the barrel? The barrel is integral to the weapon's function.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby shootist » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:39 am

Hairyloon wrote:
shootist wrote:Hopefully the Home Office will stamp on it before too many people spend their money on it.

Since your concern here appears to be a concern for their consumer rights, I suggest that if it is sold as a not-firearm when it is in fact a firearm, then it is not fit for purpose.


Not bothered to any great degree about consumer rights. I despise bow hunting except in communities where it is the only option to feed a family. If it is a firearm then I doubt any force would permit it to be acquired on a firearms licence. Certainly not for hunting at least. I also ponder whether it would meet the definition of a prohibited weapon under the firearms act.

(b)any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing;


This prohibition covers, among other things, CS sprays and stun guns.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:06 am

shootist wrote:
Hairyloon wrote:Is that a typo? Or is it gun club gibberish? You cannot measure energy in ft/lb. I'm actually struggling to think of anything you'd measure in ft/lb, but it has not been a good day.


If it's gibberish then it's Home Office gibberish. To be owned without the need for a firearms certificate an air rifle must not be capable of exceeding 12 ft/lb. To shoot large species deer in England and Wales the firearm used must, by law, exceed 1,700 ft/lb energy. The safety certification on the rifle range I use limits each of the three ranges we have by the muzzle energy in ft/lb (900 ft/lb on the shortest range)


Are you sure it's not ft lb? That would make sense.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:08 am

shootist wrote:I also ponder whether it would meet the definition of a prohibited weapon under the firearms act.

(b)any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing;


This prohibition covers, among other things, CS sprays and stun guns.

I can find no way that an arrow can be described as not an "Other thing". It is a thing, it is other than noxious liquid or gas.
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Re: Is this a firearm?

Postby dls » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:13 am

The argument, if any, wouldbe that the two items in the list establish (perhaps) some kind of substance, and there is a rule of interpretation (I forget the Latin name) which a catch-all at the end of such a list should include that quality.

Weak, but a start.

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