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Government crackdown on trade in antique guns; Move could see crackdown on weapons dating back to 1900.

Byline: Nick McCarthy Crime Correspondent

THE government is planning to toughen up gun laws after crimes involving antique weapons doubled between 2012 and 2016.

The Home Office has launched a consultation in direct response to cases such as the one involving Burger Bar Boys Godfather Nosa Stephenson, who was jailed in 2015 with 17 others for their involvement in the underworld antique gun trade.

The consultation will try to introduce a new legal definition for antique weapons, to help ensure they are properly licensed.

The current automatic cut-off date where all weapons must be licensed is 1939, but that could shift under the proposals to 1900.

Shared and ageing firearms have become the weapon of choice for Birmingham criminals as modern weapons become more expensive and harder to get hold of.

Between 2012 and 2016 the number of antique weapons recovered in criminal circumstances doubled from 46 to 91. During the 2011 Birmingham riots a St Etienne revolver - used by the French military in 1892 - was fired at the West Midlands Police helicopter outside Newtown's Barton Arms. There has also been an increase in the use of early 20th century weapons like the US Colt revolver, World War One German Luger and Browning 9mm handgun.

Minister for policing and the fire service Nick Hurd said: "This country has some of the most robust gun laws anywhere in the world.

"But we must not be complacent, which is why these laws are kept under review, and a rise in antique guns being used in crime requires action."

The Home Office said the consultation follows the 2015 convictions of an 18-strong gang of Birmingham weapon dealers, led by Stephenson and the Burger Bar Boys gang.

The men, who had their sentences increased to a total of more than 200 years in 2016, had sourced antique firearms and arranged for ammunition to be specially made to fit the weapons.

They then sold the weapons to criminal gangs for considerable profit.

Stephenson had his sentence increased from 16 to 22 years.

The public are invited to give their views in the consultation, which closes on December 14, 2017.



Nosa Stephenson

The current automatic cut-off date, after which all weapons must be licensed, is 1939

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 2, 2017
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