Moves by the British government to stamp out one of the last fragments of the gun community not already under strict regulation will see thousands of relic firearms in the hands of collectors banned.
Arguing the reason to dissolve the current "loophole" on antique firearms is for the public safety, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse detailed new laws on Monday designed to prohibit ownership of an estimated 26,000 currently-exempt collectibles across England and Wales unless they are registered and held by someone with a firearms certificate. Such grants cost £88 ($116) initially and £62 ($82) for renewal every five years, for each certificate.
Those who do not comply could face five years’ imprisonment in one of the Crown's jails.
"Public safety is our top priority and we cannot allow these dangerous firearms to fall into the wrong hands," said Malthouse. "The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world - we will do everything in our power to make sure it stays that way."
The classification will involve firearms that take one of seven long-obsolete 19th Century ammunition types, once protected under the UK's Firearms Act 1968, for old guns typically "held as an ornament or curiosity."
The removed calibers, now deemed worthy of restrictions:
.320 British (also known as .320 Revolver CF, short or long)
.41 Colt (short or long)
.44 Smith and Wesson Russian
.442 Revolver (also known as .44 Webley or 442 R.I.C)
9.4mm Dutch Revolver
10.6mm German Ordnance Revolver
11mm French Ordnance Revolver M1873 (Army)
Besides individual collectors, dealers, and antique brokers, the new law will also affect museums and the reference guns in the firearm proof houses in London and Birmingham. This means fewer historic old guns will be on public display as the government anticipates that fully 60 percent of museums affected by the new rules will transfer their newly regulated firearms to other museums rather than obtain licenses to keep them.
Those who do not elect to legally retain such guns are required to sell them before the regulations come into effect or surrender them to police. The plan is expected to cost £6.2 ($8.2) million to implement, with collectors and dealers absorbing most of that cost.
While the government claims such throwbacks are often used in a crime by gangs unable to lay their hands on more modern hardware, those who specialize in the vintage gun market scoff at the contention.
"Criminals are disassociated from the reality that other people matter, and it's their motivation and activity that should be the subject of policing, not the activity of bona fide collectors and shooters who have no criminal intent in the pursuit of their hobby," David Scheres of Pembroke Fine Arms, an antique gun dealer, told media on the subject last year. "Antique guns are interesting, have both intrinsic and historical value, and there is no confirmed data of their significant use in crime in the UK."