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PRO-GUN LOBBY BEAT BAN WITH ANTIQUES; Scot set to bring in new weapon.

A Scots gunsmith is planning to patent a new type of dangerous weapon in a bid to beat the gun ban.

But the Government have vowed to stop former gun dealer Stuart Rankine developing muzzle- loading revolvers.

He is one of several British gunsmiths believed to be planning a new type of revolver to meet the growing demand for weapons since the Government's ban on handguns.

And yesterday Rankine, of Peebles in the Borders, attacked journalists probing his plans.

Ownership of muzzle loaders has doubled from 2600 to 5600 since the ban on handguns last year in the wake of Dunblane.

But the Government face opposition from gunsmiths, including former handgun dealer Stuart Rankine.

Muzzle-loaders, which are semi-automatic revolvers, were exempt from the ban because they were considered to be harmless antiques.

But police believe they are just as deadly as the handguns which were banned after 16 children and their teacher Gwen Mayor were murdered at Dunblane Primary in March 1996.

Now ministers have vowed to stop gun owners exploiting the legal loophole and are preparing new legislation.

Scottish Home Affairs Minister Henry McLeish said: "When we banned handguns, we promised further legislation to strengthen gun laws.

"We now know that people are trying to substitute muzzle-loading guns for banned handguns. We can't allow the gun lobby to undermine what had been achieved."

Rankine hopes his new design of muzzle-loading revolver will overcome the weapon's faults.

He claims his muzzle-loading revolver will stop the messy process of having to individually fill the weapon's six cylinders with powder, then bullets and grease.

Rankine told yesterday's Observer newspaper his weapon would be more like a Smith & Wesson.

But when approached by the paper's reporters, he refused to answer questions and attacked a photographer with a stick.

He applied for the patent design on September 28 last year, just two days before the deadline for turning in banned handguns.

The Gun Control Network, a campaign group which took over from the Dunblane Snowdrop appeal, wrote to every MP in Britain pointing out the loophole two weeks ago.

Spokeswoman Gill Marshall Andrews said: "We hope they will take this on board. If not, you are going to get a semi-automatic handgun which is just like the ones that have been banned. That is not in the spirit of the law."

The Home Affairs Select Committee is expected to raise the issue.

Mrs Marshall Andrews said: "I understand it will be in the context of a complete review of all firearms legislation, which was promised by Labour before the election."
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Author:McLaughlin, Allison
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 13, 1998
Words:426
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