Bills Committee on
Firearms and Ammunition (Amendment) Bill 1999

Administration's response to issues
raised at the meeting on 14 September 1999

I Proposed amendments to the draft Committee Stage Amendments (CSAs)

Based on the discussion at the last meeting, we have revised the draft CSAs by -

  1. replacing "any other matter" with "any other relevant matter" in clauses 6(c), 7, 11, 16(c), 17 and 23 concerning the criteria that the Commissioner of Police (CP) will take into account when examining application for a licence/appointment of an authorized arms instructor or approved agent or range officer/renewal of a licence, or when considering cancellation of a licence or the appointments in question;

  2. improving the presentation of clauses 6(c), 7, 16(c), 17 and 23 concerning the criteria that CP will take into account when considering cancellation of a licence or appointment of an authorized arms instructor or approved agent or range officer or renewal of a licence; and

  3. stipulating in the legislation the main criteria that CP will consider when processing application for or considering cancellation of the new exemption permits for the use of modified firearms for TV/film shooting.

A copy of the revised draft CSAs proposed to be moved by the Administration is at Annex.

II Proposed amendment to the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap.228)

2. Some members suggested the Administration consider the application of the concept of "gross negligence" in the proposed amendment, i.e. the new section 14(A).

3. We have consulted the Department of Justice and are advised that there are no major differences between the concepts of "negligence" and "gross negligence" when applied to the civil proceedings. Both refer to a situation where one fails to exercise the standard of care that a reasonable person in his position would have exercised. On the other hand, in relation to the criminal responsibility arising from negligence, the term "gross negligence" is normally used to denote the very high degree of negligence or recklessness that is required to establish the criminal responsibility. It is rarely used in areas other than homicide offences. In fact, there does not appear to be any practical differences between "recklessness" and "gross negligence" in such cases. Hence, our reservation on adopting the concept of "recklessness" in the proposed amendment as explained in the last "Administration's response" is also applicable to the concept of "gross negligence".

III Testing of licensees, arms instructors and range officers

4. Some Members requested the Administration to provide further information on the qualifications of the Police officers who are responsible for conducting tests on applicants for licences and appointment of authorized arms instructors or range officers.

5. The Licence Team of the Weapons Training Division has been established since 1996 to conduct the tests in question. The Team is also responsible for conducting firearms handling tests for armed security personnel as well as inspecting Force and private shooting ranges. It consists of one Inspector and two Sergeants. All of them are experienced Police officers. They have completed the arms instructor courses of the Police Force and have conducted firearms training in the Force for more than three years.

6. The Team is directly overseen by a Superintendent who is the head of the Weapons Training Division. He is a qualified arms and rifle instructor of the National Rifle Association of the United States and a qualified range officer of the British Forces. He has completed a number of arms instructors and range management courses conduced in the United States and the United Kingdom, e.g. the Rifle Instructors' Course and Range Design and Operation Course of the National Rifle Association of the United States, and the Firearms Training and Range Design Studies conducted by the British Force.

7. Hence, all of the officers concerned are experienced and qualified trainers on firearms and possess the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct the tests in question.

Security Bureau
September 1999