Reconsider the Offensive Weapons Bill for fencers and hobbyists.
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As a fencer and antique collector, I am very concerned about the proposed new legislation concerning the sale of bladed objects.
This threatens to damage hundreds of businesses and numerous hobbies, which all contribute to the culture, reputation, history and prosperity of the United Kingdom, unless reasonable exemptions or defences are included in the legislation.
There is a growing concern that the proposed legislation around the posting of ‘bladed objects’ will be unworkable for a range of items which are not knives, or used in crime, but which do technically have ‘blades’.
For example, fencing foils, antiques and even toys. In other words, that it will prohibit the postage of items which it is obviously not the Home Office’s intention to prohibit.
Since this petition was started, the Home Office has now published the first public draft Bill.
In it are included 'defences' for posting bladed items which are intended to be used in sport and historical re-enactment, or are custom-made.
We hugely appreciate that the Home Office has recognised legal and necessary reasons for people to purchase such bladed items and have them posted to their homes (where no other practical option is even available).
However, we were very surprised and disappointed to see that the Home Office has neglected to mention antique bladed items.
Antiques have been traditionally exempted from Offensive Weapons legislation in the UK since 1988. Therefore, it is very surprising to see them not exempted or even mentioned in this draft Bill.
The antiques industry in the United Kingdom is World famous and the trade in antique arms and armour contributes tens of millions of pounds each year to the UK economy.
In addition, it is culturally and historically important.
Antiques MUST be exempted from the new Offensive Weapons laws and postage to private residential addresses MUST be allowed for antiques.
Antiques are generally purchased in auction (bidding being usually done online with auction houses such as Christies and Bonhams), sent by courier from an auction house to a private address, sold by dealers through websites and then posted to personal addresses.
Relatively few antique dealers have physical shops now, as it is economically not viable anymore.
Antique auction houses are reliant on shipping out items to individuals, most of which now go to private addresses.
Auction houses are located all over the country, as are antique dealers and antique buyers – it is not physically possible for auction houses, dealers and buyers to be driving all over the country to collect things.
The entire antiques industry operates online and through couriers now.
Antiques must surely be exempt from any prohibition on posting, just as antiques are currently exempt from most other weapon-related laws?
We, the undersigned, therefore strongly urge the Home Secretary to make sure that when the new Offensive Weapons Bill draft is next updated, or ultimately brought into force, that it includes an exemption for antique arms and armour, which have been exempt under Offensive Weapons legislation since 1988 and are not demonstrably used in any crimes in the UK.
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