Firearms licensing controls: sound moderators

Home Office written statement – made am ar 21 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

The Government is today launching a consultation on removing a firearm accessory known as a sound moderator from firearms licensing controls. The intention is to do this by making use of a Legislative Reform Order, made under section 1 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.

A sound moderator is a firearm accessory that can be attached to a rifle barrel to reduce the sound and flash when the rifle is fired. It does so by trapping and slowing down the gases produced by the propellant when the rifle is fired to eliminate the muzzle blast of the shot. It does not fully silence the ‘crack’ of the bullet but reduces the audible sound of the rifle by around three quarters. Sound moderators are used to protect shooters’ hearing, to reduce the disturbance to others in the vicinity of shoots and to stop shooters being temporarily blinded by the muzzle flash of a shot. They are entirely inert objects and contain no moving parts and do not of themselves create any risk to public safety.

Sound moderators are currently defined in the Firearms Act 1968 as a firearm which means that a firearms certificate from the police is required in order to possess one. A certificate to possess a sound moderator is only issued to persons who have been subject to robust suitability checks to allow them to own a firearm, and there are currently around 200,000 sound moderators currently covered by firearms certificates. Obtaining a firearms certificate for a sound moderator incurs costs for shooters in applying for a certificate and increases the licensing burden of police firearms licensing departments.

We are therefore consulting on our proposal to introduce a Legislative Reform Order to remove sound moderators from firearms licensing controls which the Government believes will have a positive impact for many firearms certificate holders, registered firearms dealers and the police.

This country has robust controls on firearms which are kept under constant review to safeguard against abuse by criminal and terrorists and to ensure public safety. The Government is of the view that making this change to firearms legislation will not impact in any way on the strength of our firearms controls.

The consultation will run for six weeks, and the Government will publish its response in due course. A copy of the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and published on Gov.UK.