LC Paper No. LS 98/98-99
Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Legislative Council
on 29 January 1999
Legal Service Division Report on
Firearms and Ammunition (Amendment) Bill 1999
Object of the Bill
To tighten the existing statutory controls on the possession and use of arms and ammunition.
LegCo Brief Reference
2. SBCR 14/3231/55(99) issued by the Security Bureau on 14 January 1999.
Date of First Reading
3. 27 January 1999.
4. On 3 April 1996, the Firearms and Ammunition (Amendment) Bill 1996 ("the 1996 Bill") was introduced into the then Legislative Council. Most of the proposals in the 1996 Bill were similar to those in this Bill. The House Committee of the then Legislative Council decided to form a Bills Committee to study the 1996 Bill. Subsequently, the 1996 Bill lapsed after the 1996/7 legislative session as the then Legislative Council did not have time to study it.
5. The main proposals in the Bill are as follows:
- to add definitions of "air gun", "air pistol" and "air rifle";
- to define who should be a responsible officer of a corporation or an unincorporated association of persons for the purposes of holding a licence for possession, of arms and ammunition on behalf of a shooting club;
- to empower the Commissioner of Police to impose additional conditions on a licence granted to the responsible officer of a shooting club in respect of the possession and use of arms and ammunition by its members, the operation of a shooting range and an armoury, and the safety of persons;
- to exempt a person from holding a licence for possession of arms or ammunition if he holds a licence for possession of the same type, class or description as the arms or ammunition he is in possession of as a member of a shooting club;
- to exempt a person from holding a licence for possession of arms or ammunition if he has successfully completed a prescribed course of instruction under the supervision of an authorized arms instructor in the use and handling of arms or ammunition of the same type, class or description he is in possession of as a member of a shooting club;
- to empower the Commissioner to authorize a licensee (defined to mean a person who is licensed to possess or deal in arms or ammunition respectively) or his approved agent to instruct other persons in the use and handling of arms or ammunition;
- to empower the Commissioner of Police to authorize a licensee to appoint another person to possess or deal in the arms or ammunition in respect of which the licensee's licence is granted;
- to replace the existing presumption as to possession of arms, ammunition and imitation firearms with a new presumption which is modelled on section 47 of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance (Cap. 134);
- to provide that the Commissioner of Police may issue or renew a licence on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit including a restriction on the number and type of arms and the quantity and type of ammunition; and
- to amend the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228) to make it an offence of knowingly or negligently discharging an air gun (with a muzzle energy not greater than two joules) to the danger or annoyance of any person.
6. According to paragraph 24 of the LegCo Brief, the Administration issued a consultation paper in January 1996 to all existing shooting clubs, licensed arms dealers and associations in the television/film industry to seek their views on the 1996 Bill. Some of the responses were concerned that the proposals would over-regulate and suffocate the development of shooting sport in Hong Kong, and concerned about the stringency of some of the proposed licensing conditions.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
7. The Administration consulted the then Legislative Council Panel on Security on 12 February 1996 on the 1996 Bill. It also further briefed the Legislative Council Panel on Security on the Bill on 3 September 1998.
8. The Bill raises policy issues which have already generated concern of some members of the public and the legal issue of replacing the existing presumption with a new one. In that light, Members are recommended to form a Bills Committee to study these issues in detail. In the meantime, the Legal Service Division will continue to scrutinize the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill.
Lam Ping-man, Stephen
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
27 January 1999