Unless you’ve been living under a rock most UK airsofters will be aware of the sensational proposals being put forward by FireSupports own Frank Bothamley to UKARA members for possible reform. If you haven’t catch up with the post here:
VCRA Reboot Proposals
Now that UKAPU have had a chance to digest and contact some of the parties involved Chairman Phil Bucknall has issued this statement to airsofters and members (shown here unedited):
UKAPU Response to recent events
“I think it fair to say that the recent events have been well publicised. I am of course referring
to the leaked email from Frank Bothamley to other UKARA members containing ideas on how to rework the VCRA.
I hope to address the issues raised in the email from a UKAPU perspective but also I want to avoid casting aspersions and name calling as it is counterproductive.
Firstly, I want to deal with the manner in which it was brought to light. Whilst I have a huge amount of respect for ‘Yossers Airsoft Odyssey’ I believe the manner in which the story was broken was guaranteed to result in a vitriolic outrage in the online airsoft community. This could have been as counterproductive and as damaging as the contents of the email itself. I hope that ‘Yosser’ can take something from this experience as well as the retailers, Mr. Bothamley and the wider airsoft community.
Secondly; we should bear in mind that the email contained ideas. These were not proposals that had been submitted to the Home office and accepted, they were not new laws they were just ideas. It is important that this is remembered.
If these are submitted to the HO or the ACPO as they stand purely through others inaction as Mr. Bothamly alludes to then that would be another matter and one that UKAPU would fight as we do not agree with the recommendations in their entirety.
So let’s deal with the email:
1. Mr. Bothamley approached the HO and the ACPO over 12 months ago. As Chairman of UKARA and dealing with issues relating around the VCRA then that is his prerogative to do so as the breaches of the VCRA he was reporting were not being dealt with. Due to the nature of these discussions, a heads up and some feedback to the other associations (and to the UKARA members) would have been a matter of common courtesy, and would be in line with the coordinated approach that we have agreed upon.
2. Any proposal that further limits the rights of players to purchase RIF’s places the control of second hand sales and personal imports into the hands of retailers is not something we would condone and would fight against it. There is no evidence that private imports and second hand sales are causing a problem.
3. Mr. Bothamley’s call for RIF’s to be sold through airgun weapon RFD’s is just that. It is not asking for reclassification of airsoft guns to airgun status just that they be sold via a checkable source. This isn’t necessarily the end of the world as it would do away with some of the less than honest retailers. It could have an impact on some of the smaller shops but it is for them to decide if gaining RFD status is worthwhile. It
makes checking a whole lot easier for both the police and trading standards however.
4. UKARA would be defunct. Whilst the database and the association have been proven to be less than perfect and there are persistent accusations of new retailers being denied fair access, it has worked for the most part. It’s not perfect, and I believe that the database should be controlled independently, probably by sites, and with free access for all, in line with the original assertions that “it would not be a closed system”. With the system proposed by Mr. Bothamley, all that would be required would be proof of age. This would I think put us back to pre VCRA days, with RIFs available to all and thus all the problems that were perceived to exist prior to he VCRA would In effect exist once more.
5. The proposals for the withdrawal of second hand sales and personal imports as outlined in Mr. Bothamley’s Email concern us the most. If he wishes to follow the model for airgun sales then these should remain unregulated and UKAPU would fight for this right to remain.
The result of this rather negative situation is that it has promoted discussion. Let’s hope that the outcome is more interest from players, sites and retailers in how they are represented. Bear in mind that, at the moment, we are doubtful that changes to these law are on the table.
–The main point of UKAPU is that it’s a way to get your voice heard. As we will be speaking to ACPO and the Home Office in the near future, would members want us to support changes to the VCRA or not? Would you prefer to see reforms from within the community? If you do want to see changes in the VCRA and specific defence, what would you like to change? Do you feel that the VCRA is fundamentally working? Is it workable and enforceable and are problems with enforcement even an issue for the airsoft community, or the duty of the Police and Government? Please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the discussion on our forum if this has made you think about our hobby’s future.