UK Government plans Crossbow Control laws

Right on the back of an assassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth II on Christmas Day 2021 in Windsor Castle, the current Home Secretary of the UK Government, Priti Patel, confirmed 2 days later that a review will be carried out on the current laws surrounding ownership of crossbows throughout England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Despite the fact that the 19-year-old man behind the incident, Jaswant Singh Chail, posted a video to his pals on Snapchat 24 minutes before the attempted assassination explicitly detailed his intent to assassinate the Monarch. With reasons being given including it being revenge at the British Empire’s involvement in the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, or Massacre of Amritsar and that it was also for many people who have been ‘killed, humiliated or discriminated on because of their race’.

The focus has instead been shifted to effectively blame ordinary responsible law-abiding individuals for daring to voluntary part with their hard-earned money to own and use crossbows on their own property, or at target ranges and to greatly surveil them under Minority-Report-style pre-crime laws in an effort to make sure that no-one can ever be harmed by a weapon like a crossbow ever again. If the Windsor Castle assassin, even if he managed to get his own way, had brash anti-vaccine, anti-face-mask, anti-covid-lockdown, anti-immigrant, anti-jewish, anti-muslim, anti-asian, anti-EU, anti-women, anti-LGBT, pro-free-speech, sectarian sentiments, the mainstream media and mainstream politicians would be reporting on a near-non-stop basis about how these exact views and ideologies, even if they are separate from each other, are ‘responsible’ for rises in violent crime and are a scourge in general society.

Whereas these far-left borderline-marxian views on the Royal Family, even if they have fair points about the wrongdoings of the British Empire & Royal Family, and racism, though the definition has been informally expanded & used so greatly that it effectively has become meaningless, are not given as much attention and accountability as the other viewpoints.

This recent event came after a series of local murders were reported in the UK as a result of the perpetrator using a crossbow to kill their victims with campaigns being launched to regulate the sale and use of crossbows. In particular on the 12th January 2018, while waiting upstairs for his victims to return from a night out after breaking through a wall into their loft, Anthony Lawrence fired a crossbow bolt at 30-year-old Shane Gilmer which broke his arm and a rib, damaged his liver and kidney and became embedded in his spine. Mr Gilmer’s partner Laura Sugden, who was pregnant at the time of the incident, was also shot by another bolt as it cut her throat but survived the attack in the East Yorkshire village of Southburn, near Driffield, East Yorkshire, England.

Ms Sugden was able to escape to a neighbour’s house to dial 999 for the emergency services. Sugden and her partner were taken to Hull Royal Infirmary but Gilmer suffered a cardiac arrest and died on arrival at the hospital. According to the pathologist. he also had a heart abnormality, which may have made him more vulnerable to blood loss. Two days after the attack, Lawrence’s body was found in a motor home in a rural location in North Yorkshire. On 26th April 2021, Sugden set up a public parliament petition calling for Stricter laws governing the purchase/acquisition/possession of crossbows, which attracted 42084 signatures as of the time the petition closed on 26th October 2021 (all parliament petitions expire after 6 months).

The petition called for the UK Government to ‘ensure that safeguards are put in place to reduce the likelihood of these lethal weapons being possessed by those with no legitimate reason to own/use them or where it would likely give rise to concerns for public safety’. The petition also went on to say, “Crossbows are silent, lethal, weapons. They have a similar effective range to a shotgun but offer the accuracy of a rifle. They are inexpensive and incredibly easy to obtain and there is currently very little regulation in terms of their purchase and use.” After the petition hit over 10000 signatures which automatically requires the UK Government to respond to each petition, the Home Office responded as follows:

“We were deeply saddened to hear about the abhorrent circumstances in which Mr Gilmer was killed and Ms Sugden was injured, and we recognise the devastating impact that crimes such as this have on the victims, their friends and family and the wider communities in which they live. Our thoughts are with Ms Sugden and the family and friends of Mr Gilmer at this incredibly difficult time.

Crossbows are subject to statutory controls in the Crossbows Act 1987. This Act makes it an offence to sell or hire a crossbow, with a draw weight of 1.4 kilograms or greater to anyone under the age of 18 and prohibits anyone aged under 18 from buying or hiring a crossbow. It is also an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess a crossbow which can discharge a missile or parts of a crossbow which together (and without any other parts) can be assembled to form a crossbow capable of discharging a missile, unless they are under the supervision of a person who is aged 21 or older.

Crossbows may also be considered as offensive weapons. The Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibits the possession, in a public place, of any offensive weapon without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. Additionally, under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is also an offence to be in possession of crossbow bolts in a public place without good reason or lawful authority.

If a crossbow is misused to harm a person this is a very serious offence that could amount to actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm or murder under existing criminal legislation. These offences attract severe penalties including life imprisonment in the case of murder.

Whilst it is shocking and tragic when incidents occur where crossbows have been misused, these incidents are fortunately very rare. The vast majority of those using crossbows do so safely and responsibly. At the present time, we believe the laws around crossbows strike the correct balance between protecting the public and also allowing people to own and use crossbows for legitimate activities. In light of this, we have no current plans to introduce further legislation relating to crossbows.”

After the Home Office’s response, Laura Sugden responded by vowing to fight on for a change in the laws: “I am really disappointed, I am not asking for them to be banned, I am just asking that people have checks simply the same as what you would require for holding a shotgun licence. Anybody can go out and buy a crossbow for as little as £150 and as long as they are over 18 there’s no record of them buying one.” The coroner who heard the inquest into Mr Gilmer’s death also urged the government to review the existing legislation. Professor Paul Marks wrote to the Home Secretary saying that without changes “there is a risk that future deaths will occur”.

On top of the laws already mentioned in the mid-2021 Home Office’s statement, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 effectively bans hunting with crossbows, and the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibits carrying offensive weapons (including crossbows) in public, including on any road in Scotland within the definition of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 but only highways in the rest of the UK, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. The term “offensive weapon” is defined by the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 to mean any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use by him or by some other person.

But the reality is that Crossbow deaths, although we do not know exactly how many people own Crossbows in the entire UK, are very rare. According to ISON Harrison Solicitors, the main firm that published a public manifesto titled #ShanesLaw, when it detailed it’s research on the number of crossbow incidents in the UK which came at 42; 32 of which occurred in England, 5 of which occurred in Scotland, 2 of which occurred in Wales and 3 of which occurred in Northern Ireland, 24 crossbow shooting victims survived their attacks and 18 crossbow shooting victims died.

They also stated that another 43 incidents where crossbows were used to threaten victims of crime or be used in a crime but no injuries or deaths were reported. Out of the 5 crossbow incidents that occurred in Scotland, only 1 person named in the Shane’s Law petition, 23-year-old Gordon Diduca, died from a combination of crossbow & knife injuries, with the latter being sustained in Diduca’s shoulder, in an altercation in late September 2017 as a result of the now aged mid-30s suspect, Charles Little, being under the influence of alcohol and amphetamine which exacerbated his personality disorder and deemed to have had ‘diminished responsibility’ as a result.

Little accused Diduca of being responsible for losing his girlfriend and his job and also admitted using his crossbow to threaten other partygoers at Diduca’s flat and even fired arrows at them. He also stabbed another partygoer which left him with permanent disfigurement. Under the influence, Little also thought that his neighbours were spying on him. Little received 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to culpable homicide, a reduced charge from the original one of murder, after five days of a jury trial at Glasgow High Court in March 2019.

Upon doing a manual calculation of the total amount of the UK Population and the amount of total incidents with injuries or deaths recorded from crossbow incidents, you overall stand a less than 0.1% chance of being attacked or killed by a criminal using a crossbow, let alone even be threatened with one. In fact, gun and knife deaths don’t even make the top 10 leading causes of death in England & Wales as well as in Scotland. In fact, when asked in an FOI request by yours truly on, the ONS can’t seem to be able to specifically define deaths related to Crossbows at all.

Via a similar FOI request on the same site, The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) stated they recorded one death from a homicide as a result of crossbows and that the offender was aged under 18 years old between 2000 and 2021. An FOI disclosure from Police Scotland in November 2021 revealed that 107 offences under Sections 141 and 141A on possession of weapons were recorded between 2016 and 2021. Out of all of those numbers, only one offence of possessing a crossbow was recorded in 2021. Yet nearly every single time a criminal incident involving a crossbow or gun happens which either results in injury and/or death, a mass hysteria develops within the population, half of the time fuelled by local or national mass media outlets as well as reaction from some mainstream politicians or known leaders in the community, to cry out to governments that they ‘do something’ about the weapons themselves instead of blaming the criminals that decide to use the weapons against their victims in the first place.

But if anyone dares to raise their head above the water to talk honestly about these issues raising the points issued above, along with making the positive case for why members of society should be empowered to physically defend themselves against violent criminals should they break into their property, they immediately get demonised as not being caring about crime victims and wishing more death on society as a result of these weapons. The Sun Newspaper, which reported the most on the Windsor Castle incident, also wrote a hit piece in the same article about Amazon selling crossbows online and attempted to get Amazon to remove the crossbows from their site.

As mentioned earlier, there are already plenty of laws that exist within the UK which criminalise possession of certain weapons including rifles, shotguns and handguns as well as certain blades and other corrosive substances. As a result, you are required to have a licence to use a shotgun for purposes of hunting or sports in England, Scotland & Wales, along with reasons of self-defence in Northern Ireland. The licensing process involves having to not only to apply for a certificate including having to use a referee that has known you for a minimum of 2 years (i.e. family member, friend, teacher, lecturer, doctor, sports coach, etc) as well as to demonstrate that you are of good character to the firearms enforcement officers when they interview you but you also have to have properly fitted an expensive shotgun safe to your floor or wall so that nobody else, not even other members of your house, can easily take your gun away.

The UK also has requirements in common law & criminal law on the right to self-defence in any situation but these are often complicatedly enforced by the authorities anytime the person defending themselves against bad criminals is deemed to have not been using ‘reasonable’ force, particularly on charges of either common assault or actual bodily harm. When seconds count, you can’t always rely on the police to show up on time to deal with the criminal threatening and/or attacking you. Yet the advice often given when experiencing a burglary or robbery in your own private property or even when working elsewhere in a front line retail job often involves being told to not confront the criminal lest your own physical life may be in danger and that you should either hide or get away from the criminal in order to dial 999. If you can’t get away from the robber, you’ll just have to do as they say and hand over your stuff.

I did make 3 public Freedom of Information (FOI) requests about homeowners using self-defence against violent criminals and either were subject to arrest and/or prosecution to Police Scotland, the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (SCTS) but they all declined the requests.

As much as the good intentions exist on wanting society to be a better place with people getting along with each other more by putting restrictions on every single member of the public to own & use weapons, thus wanting to deter criminals away from attacking people, the sad reality is that criminals always find unique ways around the law to attack and/or steal from innocent people. In fact, whenever they choose to make their move, they frankly don’t care about breaking the law anyway. Individual criminals planning mass murders on a small or large scale will not view the lack of availability of guns and crossbows as an obstacle to their course of action.

Unless many of us help to find a balance between being able to get the authorities involved should your life and property be threatened and finding ways to defend yourself against the perpetrators when seconds most vitally count, the cycle of mass psychosis surrounding the wrong use of weapons and ‘solutions’ entailing the government to take away more of your self-defence rights on a whim will only continue until you realise in any horror or dystopian situation that maybe taking away the rights of the people to keep & bear arms isn’t a good thing in the long term.



Jonathan Rainey: Is an SLP activist and candidate for Dumbarton in the upcoming May 5th Elections.



Sources :-

Home Secretary orders review of crossbow laws

Ten years in jail for Dundee man who killed Gordon Diduca in knife and crossbow attack

Self Defence


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