The report, which a coroner can send if he believes that during the course of the inquest or investigation that there is a matter of concern that if not addressed would give risk to a rise of future deaths, clearly highlights the dangers of crossbows and a recommendation to review the existing legislation of crossbow sales and ownership.
In the report, the coroner stated:
“Evidence was heard from all police witnesses who were called, that unlike shotguns and firearms, which are subject to regulation and a record of ownership, no such provision applies to crossbows. The Crossbows Act 1987, as amended, controls the possession of crossbows by persons under 18 years throughout the United Kingdom. Once sold there is no on-going control, record or licensing requirement for these weapons, unlike those in place for firearms and shotguns, pursuant to the Firearms Act 1968 as amended. The police have no record of who owns crossbows, how they are stored, the number that are in circulation in the community and so forth, yet evidence was heard about the power and lethal capabilities of these weapons, as well as the fact that they are essentially silent. Over the last few years, there have been some high profile incidents and killings that have involved the use of these weapons and the present case is unfortunately another example.”
“In my opinion, you should consider a review of existing legislation, including the Crossbows Act 1987 and the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 with the intention of regulating the sale and possession of these lethal weapons, which can currently be purchased over the counter or via the internet by any person over the age of 18 years. Currently, they are not subject to any form of license or certificate or requirement for their sale and possession to be recorded and details held by the police, as is the case with shotguns and sporting rifles. I believe that you and your Department have the power to take such action.”
We believe the coroner’s report following the Shane Gilmer inquest is vital to our ongoing campaign with Laura Sugden to encourage the UK Government to enforce stricter laws governing the purchase, acquisition and possession of crossbows.
This Prevention of Future Deaths report has been sent to Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and Kit Malthouse, Minister for State for Crime and Policing. They have 56 days to respond to the report which will give us until 30th June 2021, unless an extension is granted by the coroner.
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