August 5th, 2010

Brits Ban Starter Pistols — Five Years Mandatory Jail Time

starter pistol Britain BanGovernment officials in the UK have banned blank-firing starter pistols, claiming they can be converted to fire live rounds. As of June 4, 2010, possession of an Italian-made, bright orange Olympic .380 BBM starter pistol is now a criminal offense (whether or not the pistol has been converted), with a mandatory 5-year jail term. Approximately 1500 of the Olympic starter pistols have been imported into the UK since 2006, and they are widely used in other countries.

UK officials announced an amnesty during which the starter pistols could be surrendered to police in Britain and Wales. But the amnesty has expired. Now, if prosecuted, those who did not give up their starter pistols will be locked up for five years. According to BBC Online: “After 4 June the weapon will be prohibited under the 1968 Firearms Act and anyone caught possessing it faces a mandatory prison sentence of five years.” Note that possession of the starter pistols is now illegal whether or not the pistols have been converted to fire live ammo. Imagine being jailed for FIVE YEARS for having a noise-making device, which is all an unmodified starter pistol really is.

The purported reason for the starter pistol ban is that a few of the pistols have been converted to fire live ammunition. Law enforcement officials in London claim that black-painted, converted starter pistols have been “linked” to a handful of serious crimes.

Yorkshire Post Story on Olympic Starter Pistol Ban | BBC Online Story on Starter Pistol Confiscation

Sporting groups in Great Britain have protested the draconian ban on starter pistols. David Brown of UK Athletics equated the banning of starter pistols with taking whistles away from football [soccer] referees. As quoted in the Yorkshire Post, Brown said:

“The implications for our major Olympic sport in the lead-up to 2012 should not be underestimated. The guns are the only thing that give a dual signal, a flash and smoke, to the athletes in front of you and the timekeepers. There is nothing else [to use], except at the Olympic Games level where they have electronic guns.”

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