LC Paper No. CB(2) 193/98-99(03)

LegCo Panel on Security

Notes of Meeting held
on Monday, 12 February 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

IV. Review of the Firearms Licensing Policy and the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance (Cap 238)
(Appendix IV to LegCo Paper No. PL 757/95-96)

20. The Chairman advised that the subject of Shooting Clubs was discussed by the Panel in June 1994 and he welcomed the Administration's review of the firearms licensing policy which addressed the Panel's concern. He invited Members�view on the Consultation Paper.

21. A Member referred to paragraph 8 of the Consultation Paper on air guns and enquired if stricter control could be imposed on the import and usage of air guns. In response, Mr J H Walker advised that strict control was already in force in Hong Kong in that usage of air guns with a muzzle energy greater than 2 joules was prohibited without a license. As there had only been 13 isolated complaint cases involving air guns, there was no indication of a serious threat to public safety. Mr Jack CHAN highlighted the fact that the Consultation Paper had already recommended amendment to the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap 238) to make it an offence to discharge any air gun in a public place to the danger or annoyance of any person. As the Member was worried that air guns might be converted to greater than 2 joules, Mr CHAN agreed to consider the Member's suggestion.

22. On the proposal in paragraph 14 of the Consultation Paper regarding the regulation of arms dealers, a Member said that he was concerned about the safety of arms taken out of approved premises. He asked if control could be imposed in this respect and if mandatory records could be kept concerning the movement of arms outside approved premises.

23. Mr Walker assured Members that the Administration was similarly concerned about the movement of arms and had accordingly proposed legislative amendments governing the appointment of agents in handling firearms. Past experience showed that firearms licensees had always complied with the licensing requirements. Mr CHAN added that the licensing authority did exercise control in various aspects and these included careful scrutiny of the background of the licensees including their criminal record and surprise checks on the licensees. The Police would also step up enforcement actions against illegal possession of firearms.

24. On the suggestion for keeping mandatory records on the movement of arms, Mr Walker advised that the Working Group conducting the review had considered this unnecessary at the present stage. This took into account the large number of handguns in use, the number having increased from 500 in 1985 to 2,000 in 1996, and the mandatory requirement for such arms to be kept in approved premises. The Member's suggestion would however be examined in the next phase of the review.

25. In response to a question on imitation firearms, Mr Walker confirmed that the use of imitation firearms as genuine weapons was an offence and would be subject to heavy penalty in courts. However, the possession of model firearms not associated with the execution of crimes was not regarded as an offence.

26. A Member enquired if the licensing requirements were applicable to the British garrison stationed in Hong Kong. He also sought elaboration on the proposal in paragraph 13 of the Consultation Paper regarding deactivation of firearms. On the first point, Mr Jack CHAN advised that the Administration's focus was on shooting clubs. Mrs YAU added that the object of the legislation was to regulate the civil organizations and the licensing requirements were therefore not applicable to the British garrison. On the second point, Mr Walker explained that the recommendation in question was aimed at setting standard guidelines for the deactivation of firearms to prevent decorative firearms to be converted to real weapons.

27. To address Member's concern on the compliance of standards for filming purpose, Mr Walker confirmed that strict standards were set for the filming industry which in general were keen to maintain the standard. The Police did have an extensive intelligence network in this respect but would not hesitate to take enforcement actions if there was evidence to show that imitation firearms were used for criminal purposes.

28. Before concluding, the Chairman urged the Administration to consider applying the requirement for licensees to pass a test on the safe handling of firearms both to existing licensees and new applicants alike.