A few days ago I wrote a blog post about how new laws being considered by the government could mean the end of the re-enacting hobby as we know it in the UK. As a matter of courtesy I sent the Home Office a quick email to let them know that I was blogging on the subject, and giving them the opportunity to respond.
Within a matter of hours an email arrived in my inbox from the Direct Communications Unit of the Home Office - replying to some of the points that I raised in my initial post.
I have copied their reply in here...
"The Home Secretary\'s recent announcement follows police concerns about the increasing use of deactivated guns in crime. Of particular concern are guns de-activated before 1995 when tough new standards were introduced for the de-activation of live guns making them harder to re-activate.
We are aware that many de-activated guns are owned by genuine and responsible collectors and we want to allow this to continue as far as possible. While the figures for 2005-6 show very low levels of what were perceived to be deactivated firearms in crime, the police have suggested that their use in crime has increased and this is something which the Home Secretary is keen to evaluate and tackle. In relation to re-activated firearms, statistics for 2005-06 show 2 reactivated handguns and 2 other reactivated weapons were used in crime. However, the true scale of the use of reactivated firearms is difficult to quantify because in many firearms offences the gun used is not recovered. The figures do not contain information about the number of reactivated antique firearms used in crime.
We will shortly consult the Association of Chief Police Officers and other stakeholders on the best way forward, which will allow genuine collectors to continue while depriving criminals of the opportunity to misuse deactivated guns. This will be a public consultation and the consultation paper will be available through the Home Office website, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk
They also attached this link, suggesting that I have a look at the crime statistics figures in the UK. I had a read through - start on page 32 if you want to go straight to the gun crime statistics. The conclusion that I came to when presented with these stats is that the overall number of firearms offences (including air weapons) came to a staggering 22,896 offences. Of which 4 were from reactivated firearms. So 0.02% of gun crime in 2005/06 saw the use of reactivated weapons - obviously floods of Napoleonic re-enactors have not yet turned to a life of crime.
Are the government then overreacting? Gun crime has become a massive political gambit - but I do think it is hugely encouraging that the Home Office were so quick to respond to me - the re-enactor question is not being ignored and that there will be a public consultation process - hopefully common sense will prevail.