The definition of a deactivated weapon is as follows:
Altering of key components of the weapon in such a way that, as the 1988 Firearms (Amendment) Act states 'it has been rendered incapable of discharging any shot, bullet or other weapon and has consequently ceased to be a firearm within the meaning of the Act'.
Legal deactivation does not necessarily involve submitting the weapon to a Proof House
. Deactivation proofing provides 'evidential proof' that a weapon has been deactivated, BUT IT IS NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEACTIVATION OF A FIREARM IN THIS COUNTRY
. In short any deactivated weapon can be legal as long as it meets the requirements in point 1 above. A deactivated weapon can only be illegal if it can be shown (proved) that it is indeed capable of discharging a shot, bullet or other weapon. The Home Office Publication, Firearms Law Guidance to the Police quotes in section 2.3:
2.3 Section 8 of the 1988 Act provides that, unless it can be shown otherwise, a firearm which has been deactivated to a standard approved by the Secretary of State so that it is incapable of discharging any shot bullet or other missile, is presumed not to be a firearm within the meaning of the principal Act and therefore not subject to control if it bears a mark approved by the Secretary of State for denoting that fact. The 1988 Act requires that one of the two Proof Houses or some other person designed by the Secretary of State has marked the firearm and certified in writing that it has been deactivated to the approved standard.
Section 8 is an evidential provision and does not preclude the possibility that a firearm which has been deactivated in some other manner may also have ceased to be a firearm within the meaning of the principal Act.
We also benefit from the European Weapons Directive 91/477 EEC which was subsumed into UK law by virtue of the 1992 Firearms Act. This directive forms the minimum standard of Firearms control throughout the EEC. It states:
(a)“ For the Purposes of this Annex objects which correspond to the definition of a firearm shall not be included in that definition if they:
have been rendered permanently unfit for use by the application of technical procedures which are guaranteed by an official body or recognised by such a body;"
Therefore weapons proofed as inert or deactivated in other countries (by an official body) may be perfectly legal as long as they conform to the requirements of point 1 above and contain no functional component parts - see below.
Most weapon accessories can be sold legally. However, the law regarding component parts is more complex and open to some interpretation. The actual European Weapons Directive definition of a component part covers only the breech closing mechanism, the chamber and the barrel of the firearm. However, although it is not specifically stated in our firearms laws, Home Office guidance as well as rulings from past court proceedings would suggest that a component part be considered as any part required to fire a weapon. This would specifically include parts which have been manufactured uniquely for a particular weapon, e.g. bolt/extractor, bolt carrier, trigger mechanism/parts, firing pin, receiver, barrel, gas piston and charging handle. Parts not considered to be component parts would be stocks/grips, magazines, sights and springs.
Please note that under the 1968 Firearms Act the definition of a firearm extends beyond simply a gun and its component parts to include:
any accessory to any such weapon designed or adapted to diminish noise or flash caused by firing the weapon;..
This would include flash eliminators and sound suppressors. It is particularly ridiculous that a small piece of metal on the end of a barrel (flash eliminator) could be considered a weapon in its own right, but it is! Remember however, that both of these components (being classed as firearms) can be owned legally if they have been deactivated in line with point 1 at the top of this page.