General News

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Anyone still in possession of a MARS or LR rifle should take it to the nearest police station as soon as possible.

The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 set out to prohibit the possession of self-unloading rifles other than in .22” calibre.   The overwhelming majority of firearms affected are Manually-Activated Release System (MARS)[1] and Lever-Release (LR) rifles.  On the passage of the Act, it became illegal to purchase, acquire, sell or transfer such a firearm, but not to possess one.  A compensation scheme for voluntary surrender of such firearms ran from December 2020 to 9 March 2021.

The Home Office has informed the NRA and others of the final step in the legislation, prohibition of possession of such firearms[2].  The prohibition is effective after midnight on Wednesday 14 July, thus it essential to take immediate action.  After midnight Wednesday these firearms will be Prohibited (Section 5), and possession will attract an automatic minimum 5-year jail term.

We have urged the Home Office to advise police forces to act in a considerate manner to those who still have these firearms on certificate, and avoid any heavy-handed action or over-zealous prosecutions

The Home Office state that 1,133 rifles have been surrendered.  The NRA knows of four that have either not been surrendered or have been surrendered after 9 March without compensation.  However, the NRA has indications that there may be many other such rifles still held on Firearm Certificates.

Anyone still in possession of a MARS or LR rifle, or any other rifle that automatically ejects the spent case (other than one in .22” calibre) should take it to the nearest police station as soon as possible.  State in writing that you are surrendering the firearm under duress and insist on a receipt.

It is likely that the holders of such firearms are members of clubs affiliated to the NRA that do not use Bisley or MoD ranges (hence their members are not on the NRA database) and are not users of the internet in connection with shooting sports (because the matter has been discussed extensively online since the first announcement in 2017).  We urgently request secretaries of such clubs to contact their members who may own MARS or LR firearms and ensure they are aware of the impending prohibition.

Andrew Mercer

Secretary General

[1] Both MARS and LR rifles have a gas system that automatically ejects the fired case and pushes the working parts to the rear where they lock open.  A MARS rifle then will allow the working parts forward by pulling the trigger; a second pull fires the next shot and the sequence repeats.  A LR rifle has a separate control – the release lever – that allows the working parts forward to make the rifle ready for the next shot.  MARS rifles are almost all the CZ58 imported and distributed by Caledonian Arms.  Most LR rifles were made by Southern Gun Company Ltd and superficially resemble an AR-15.

[2] By means of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 (Commencement No1) Regulations 2021

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