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Sound moderators to be taken off firearms licence

Shooting organisations have long lobbied for moderators to be removed from the licence, because their inclusion does nothing for public safety.

Graham Downing takes aim

The Government has launched a public consultation on removing sound moderators from firearms licensing. Nick Hunt, head of firearms and weapons policy at the Home Office, wrote to stakeholder organisations regarding the consultation on 21 February. 

Sound moderators are currently defined in the Firearms Act 1968 as a firearm, which means that a certificate from the police is required in order to possess one. However, no record exists of any case where the effect of a sound moderator was a contributory factor to criminality. 

The consultation states that “sound moderators are not dangerous as firearms and removing them from current firearms licensing controls does not have any implications for public safety”. 

BASC director of firearms Bill Harriman commented: “The announcement that the Government is to consult over the deregulation of sound moderators is very welcome news. The removal of moderators from the firearms licensing regime not only benefits firearm certificate holders; police firearms licensing units will be spared needless administrative bureaucracy by no longer having to licence inert objects, whose free possession has no detrimental effects for public safety.” 

Shooting organisations such as BASC and the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) have petitioned the Government on this for several years. In November 2022, the BSSC sent a brief to the Home Office expounding the numerous benefits of the reclassification of moderators. 

The consultation contains four questions to answer and closes on 2 April 2024. BASC has included a guide on its website on how to respond ( 

BSSC secretary Graham Downing told Shooting Times: “We are very pleased that after many months of discussion the government is now moving forward with the deregulation of sound moderators. This is a long overdue measure which will make life simpler and easier for rifle shooters, while also reducing the burden on police firearms licensing departments, enabling them to concentrate on the important job of granting and renewing certificates. 

“I hope all shooters will respond to the public consultation and give their support so moderators can be taken off ticket very soon,” he added.