Originally Posted by Adam
Not got anything concrete to add, but my take is this. There is no "Section" in the act for low-powered air weapons (sic) which implies to me that the intention is for them not to be covered by the Act. There is Section 1 for high powered ones and Section 5 for high powered short ones (pistols over 6). Specific exemptions for low-powered air weapons and paintball guns litter the Act but tend to muddy the waters as they can imply no exemptions where they are not mentioned.
So there are two broad interpretations supported by the two camps
1) the wording of section 5 does not include an exemption for "low powered air weapons" therefore there isn't one and hence semi auto and pump action are prohibited. GTA/AMTA favour this interpretation.
2) under a kind of umbrella exemption based on the intention when the law was drafted, low powered air weapons do not fall under the scope of the Act therefore semi auto and pump LPAW are not prohibited. BASC, ACPO, CPS and the HO favour this interpretation.
From where I sit, the relevant government department, the Crown Prosecution Service, the body for law enforcement leaders and the leading shooting lobby group collectively carry more weight of credibility than a couple of trade bodies.
What troubles me apart from the wider issue, is if interpretation (1) is correct then there is no exemption for pistols (Crosman 600, Aeron B96, Steyr LP5/50, Walther CP5, DruLov Du-10, Zastava GP-45 to name but a few). Why they have been openly sold and tolerated for decades would seem to be a huge anomaly... IF that interpretation is correct...
It is a tricky one....
The fact that the HO and CPS have said it wasn't the intention of the statute law to prohibit SA airguns, if it ever came to court, it's not certain how the judge would rule.
It would depend heavily on what method of statutory interpretation he decided to use. If he decided to use a literal approach then SA airguns are prohibited. If he took a purposeful approach then the HOC about the intention of the statue would be very useful.
Since the CPS have said they consider SA sub12's not to be prohibited, it's very unlikely that a case would appear in front of a judge in the first place.
But... if the CPS change their policy, then the literal interpretation of Statute says they are prohibited. The HOC 68/97 might help in your defence but it would depend on the judge and it's a risk I personally wouldn't want to take.
I think you'd have a reasonable chance, but the case would hinge on whether you could persuade the judge not to make a literal interpretation of the statute law. In criminal cases judges do tend to lean towards literal interpretations though, so it would depend on how good your counsel was.