The Policing and Crime Bill 2015-16 is out. I really wasn’t expecting it to be this soon after the law commission report.

From “This Government Bill was presented to Parliament on Wednesday 10 February 2016. This is known as the first reading and there was no debate on the Bill at this stage.
The date for this Bill’s second reading debate has yet to be announced.
If the bill passes second reading and is committed to a public bill committee the membership of the committee will be published in Votes and Proceedings and posted on this page under ‘Commons Public Bill Committee’. The soonest this can be is the Thursday following second reading of the bill, but it may be later.”

Relevant sections for Airsoft;
Firearms Act 1968: meaning of “firearm” etc.
(1)The Firearms Act 1968 is amended as follows.
(2)In section 57 (interpretation), in subsection (1), for the words from the beginning to the end of paragraph (c) substitute—
“(1)In this Act, the expression “firearm” means—
(a)a lethal barrelled weapon (see subsection (1B));
(b)a prohibited weapon;
(c)a relevant component part in relation to a lethal barrelled
weapon or a prohibited weapon (see subsection (1C));
(d)an accessory to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited
weapon where the accessory is designed or adapted to diminish
the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon;”.
(3)In that section, before subsection (2) insert—
“(1B)In subsection (1)(a), “lethal barrelled weapon” means a barrelled weapon of any description from which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic energy of more than one joule at the muzzle of the weapon, can be discharged.
(1C)Subsection (1) is subject to section 57A (exception for airsoft guns).”
(4)In that section, after subsection (1C) (as inserted by subsection (3) above)
“(1D)For the purposes of subsection (1)(c), each of the following items is a
relevant component part in relation to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon—
(a)a barrel, chamber or cylinder,
(b)a frame, body or receiver,
(c)a breech block, bolt or other mechanism for containing the
pressure of discharge at the rear of a chamber,
but only where the item is capable of being used as a part of a lethal
barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon.”
(5)After section 57 insert—
“57AException for airsoft guns
(1)An “airsoft gun” is not to be regarded as a firearm for the purposes of this Act.
(2)An “airsoft gun” is a barrelled weapon of any description from which only a small plastic missile, with kinetic energy at the muzzle of the weapon that does not exceed the permitted level, can be discharged.
(3)“Small plastic missile” means a missile that—
(a)is made wholly or partly from plastics, and
(b)does not exceed 6 millimetres in diameter.
(4)The permitted kinetic energy level is—
(a)in the case of a weapon which is designed or adapted so that
two or more missiles can be discharged successively without
repeated pressure on the trigger, 1.3 joules;
(b)in any other case, 2.5 joules.”

My thoughts;
No airsoft replica is ‘only’ capable of discharging plastic projectiles. All of them can fire steel and glass BBs. Could this make the airsoft exception worthless?

Definition between single/semi and full auto seems reasonable.

Contrary to the report (based on our feedback), they have ruled 8mm airsoft out of the exception.

The exception, interestingly, is for all airsoft replicas and not just for those used in permitted activities ala VCRA, as per the report.

Description of BB material, ‘or partly from plastics’ (having just consulted someone involved in BB manufacture) includes bio BBs, which alleviates a concern which was raised previously. Good stuff.

Still no clarification of the position of variable power devices such as HPA driven.

Matt Furey-King, Chairman