The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner says the government is ‘reckless and irresponsible’ after it changed its mind and refused to ban a military grade rifle from public sale.
David Jamieson is extremely concerned that despite warnings from senior counter-terror officers of the risks these weapons of enormous power would pose if they got into the wrong hands, the Government chose to ignore those concerns. In the West Midlands, gun crime has risen by 50% since 2012.
The Offensive Weapons Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, originally included a ban of .50 calibre weapons, until the Home Secretary gave in to pressure from backbenchers.
The firearms have, in the past, been used by the IRA to murder soldiers and police officers during the troubles.
The bullets fired from the guns are capable of being used to pierce body armour and MoD operational requirements state the weapons are effective out to 1.8km.
David Jamieson, who also chairs the National Counter Terrorism Strategic Board, said: “This is a totally irresponsible decision from the government. It is disappointing to see that the Home Secretary has caved into pressure from Brexiteers flexing their muscles, which means we will no longer see these lethal weapons banned.
“There is no justifiable need for a member of the public to own these guns. They can do serious damage to cars, let alone people, and I can think of no reason why anyone should need to own them. The fact these weapons were used by the IRA in the 1990s proves they must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
“The Weapons Bills Committee were warned by senior counter terrorism officers that there is no body or vehicle armour which the police could use to defend themselves against the ammunition fired from these guns. If one got into the wrong hands many lives could be lost. The government have failed to take action against the most dangerous of weapons that could be available to criminals.”
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