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Combustion Cannon - Illegal in the UK?

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Combustion Cannon - Illegal in the UK?

Unread postAuthor: jimmy163 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:17 pm

Is it true you need a shotgun or FAC licence to legally own a combustion cannon in the UK?

I have one but I am not sure how legal it is. How can it be legal to own a 12ft/lb air rifle but not a potato gun.

Getting shot in the head with an air rifle would easily penetrate the skull. Getting hit with a potato would be seriously dangerous and hurt but will not kill.

The law is strange. What is the actual legal status of combustion guns in the UK?
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Re: Combustion Cannon - Illegal in the UK?

Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:31 pm

jimmy163 wrote:The law is strange. What is the actual legal status of combustion guns in the UK?


As a barreled launcher capable of over 12 ft/lbs, it's technically illegal without a firearm certificate, and since obtaining a FAC involves proving you have suitable land and a good reason to own it, I doubt "launching vegetables" quite qualifies.

The best you can do is keep a low profile, don't antagonise the neighbours or use it on public land. Note also that being in possesion of an illegal firearm gets you an automatic 5 year sentence, so stay out of trouble ;)

Getting hit with a potato would be seriously dangerous and hurt but will not kill.


First of all, many combustion launchers can push potatoes through 3/4" ply sheet - think a human skull is tougher than that? Also, the law caters for devices that are capable of being dangerous, so saying "Yes, it of course could be loaded with a cup of nuts and bolts, but don't worry, I'm only firing tissue paper out of it" is hardly going to save you.
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Re: Combustion Cannon - Illegal in the UK?

Unread postAuthor: Ragnarok » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:46 pm

I'm now going to make it hard - JSR does tend to know his stuff, but the UK law is more complex than than his post says.

I had to do a crap load of delving into this recently, so I'm confident the answer below is pretty solid.

jimmy163 wrote:The law is strange. What is the actual legal status of combustion guns in the UK?

It depends on the exact specifications, but it may either be Section 1 (requires an FAC), Section 2 (requires an SGC) or Section 5 (essentially completely illegal).

Any combustion cannon with a potential muzzle energy of greater than 1 ft-lb (it may be 1 Joule, I forget) will fit into one of these groups.
Any pneumatic with a potential power output exceeding 12 ft-lbs will also fit within either section 1 or section 5 (Section 2 cannot be air powered)

Which group it fits into depends on the specific circumstances involved. (Pistols, explosive ammunition and full auto are all section 5, as well as smoothbore revolver weapons and rifled semi-autos - with an exception for .22 rimfire, and arguably air guns, although no-one wants to put it to the test. Be aware, the 12/ft lb exemption does not clear something of Sec 5 status.)
There are exemptions which exist, but it's a very knotty problem.

Possession of a Section 1 or 2 firearm is not illegal - however, without the appropriate certificate, you face a criminal record and a prison sentence of the order of 1 year and upwards. And as JSR points out, certificates are not presented for vegetable launching, and you must be at least 18 for a Sec 1 cert. Sec 2 certs have no minimum age, although you must be at least 15 to own a Sec 2 weapon.

Possession of Section 5 is illegal, and certificates (for all practical purposes) do not exist - minimum sentencing standards are 5 years.
I've been cautious to steer clear of Sec 5.

JSR's lethality point stands however. The police may use any ammuntion they choose when deciding if your launcher is fatal. Note that "potentially fatal" means able to break skin in UK firearms law - not "likely to kill", as you seem to be hoping.

You will notice that the members from within the UK on this forum work more on the "avoid getting caught" mantra than "have it be entirely legal".
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Unread postAuthor: jimmy163 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:15 pm

Does anyone know of anyone who has ever been arrested in the UK for owning or using a combustion cannon?
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Unread postAuthor: Ragnarok » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:34 pm

I have heard of people being given clips on the ear for it, and even some cases of the armed response unit being called, which may well have included arrests, but bear in mind, that relates just to people I've spoken to on the internet - a very small minority, and generally a more sensible one, and if even they can get the ARU on them...

It's very hard to tie any instances of spudgun arrests in news reports, as they prefer to refer to "homemade weapons", rather than "Spudguns", because say spudgun to most people in this country, and they think small kids toy, and the media and police like to play things up - to get the audience's attention, and to look good respectively.

It comes down to what you're doing with it and who you are. A young teen responsibly using a combustion spudgun will probably get talked down and the spudgun taken away.
Use of it offensively would certainly see something added to the list of charges taken to court.
Older persons (like, unfortunately, myself) would not enjoy "teenage exemption".

The important thing is that if the cops want to press the issue, they can - they might not. They might just give you a warning and take it off you. However, they able to do more if they choose.
If you're doing it, your primary defence has to be not getting caught over trying to get away with it if you do.
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Unread postAuthor: ALIHISGREAT » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:41 pm

If you have your own land and plenty of space to use if safely... i can't see a scenario here you would be arrested for possession of a spudgun...

now if you live in a top floor flat and start shooting potatoes out the window across a built up area.... i can see that problems would arise...

Basically it depends alot on how, when and where you use the thing... (neighbours can play a big factor too... if you have an old paranoid granny next doom at the net curtains... the the police will be called.)
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Unread postAuthor: psycix » Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:21 pm

A silencer could help to keep a low profile. Though Ragnarok may go explain the UK laws regarding silencers now, im not sure about their legality.
Just make sure nobody spots you and fire the cannon on your or a friends piece of land, between trees and far away from other homes if possible.
If nobody can see you, and the silencer makes sure there isnt a loud BANG, you should be safe.
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Unread postAuthor: Ragnarok » Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:31 pm

psycix wrote:Though Ragnarok may go explain the UK laws regarding silencers now, im not sure about their legality.

They're considered a pressure bearing part of a firearm, so the VCR Act prevents their sale other than in face-to-face dealings.

Their construction and ownership is completely legal - integral, removable, whatever...
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Unread postAuthor: Hotwired » Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:29 pm

Spudguns over 12ft/lb are illegal to own
Making them is also illegal as you are creating an illegal device

To get them on any certificate you would need to take it to a police station and get it certified which would of course have to include why you need it, where you're going to use it and how you're going to keep it safe.

If they decide there's more chance of a snowball in hell than a certificate happening they take your cannon and grind it into little pieces.
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Unread postAuthor: psycix » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:45 pm

they take your cannon and send some spuds flying during their coffee break.

:roll:
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Unread postAuthor: maggotman » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:05 pm

jimmy163 wrote:Does anyone know of anyone who has ever been arrested in the UK for owning or using a combustion cannon?


yes, when i was 14 i got arrested with a ball valve cannon i got let of with a warning, maneley because i had no convictions at the time
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