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Fedaykin

VCRA & UKARA FAQ

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Usual disclaimers apply. First and Only will not accept responsibility for you getting arrested. All of which we discuss here has not yet been tested in court and as such is uncertain until precedent is set. If in doubt, don’t do it!

 

Terminology

VCRA – Violent Crime Reduction Act

The Act of Parliament which, in particular, restricts the sale of Airsoft guns and is the subject of this discussion.

 

RIF – Realistic Imitation Firearm

A realistic replica of a firearm, such that only an expert could distinguish it from a real firearm. Most standard Airsoft guns fall into this category.

 

IF - Imitation Firearm

A firearm shaped object which could easily be distinguished from a real firearm by the virtue of its size shape or colour. A two-tone Airsoft gun comes under this category.

 

UKARA – United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association

An organisation set up to allow the provisions of the Act to be implemented by UK sellers of RIFs.

 

The Act

The VCRA effectively bans the sale of RIFs and restricts the sale of IFs. It was introduced in order to assist the prosecution of those who use replica firearms in the commission of a crime. We are concerned with how the Act applies to us, as opposed to the political reasons that brought the Act into being as it is a complex issue. The VCRA applies to all Airsoft weapons in one way or another.

 

Breakdown

• It is illegal to buy/sell RIFs

• It is illegal to import RIFs

• It is illegal to manufacture RIFs

• It is still legal to own RIFs

• It is still legal to purchase accessories

• It is illegal to sell either IFs or RIFs to under 18s

• It is still legal to loan or borrow RIFs from individuals or sites

• There is no license to buy RIFs

• There is, however, a Defence from prosecution for Buying/Selling RIFs

 

The Defence

As part of the VCRA, Airsoft skirmishers were given a ‘Defence from prosecution’, which effectively allows you to buy RIFs, if you can prove you are a regular skirmisher and use them for such at an approved site. It is not a license to buy, but a ‘get out of jail free card’.

 

Site Membership

One of the main points to the defence is that must be a regular skirmisher at an ‘Approved Skirmish site’. This is defined as somewhere which holds public liability insurance for these events. To access this defence you must be a regular player at such a site, in order for them to vouch for you.

 

UKARA

UKARA is a retailers association which operates a scheme to allow registered skirmishers to purchase RIFs from said retailers. In order to use the scheme you must be a registered member at a site signed up to the scheme (F&O is).

 

To acquire entry to the UKARA database you must;


  • play a minimum of 3 games
  • been playing longer than 2 months
  • be over 18 years of age
  • have sufficient identification to prove who you are (link the face to the name and the name to the address) drivers licence is perfect.

You then have a form to complete which is stamped by the site operator to confirm you are regular. You then send the form to a UKARA retailer who inputs it onto the database First and Only can now process this. You can then use your member number to buy your RIF from the retailer. The retailer will only ship the item to the address you are registered at.

 

Two-Tones

Two tones are a type of IF defined as being more than 50% painted a bright colour. As these are not RIFs you are able to buy these without UKARA or other skirmish defence. You must still be 18+.

 

You can temporarily cover up the Two-tone IF, while at a skirmish event, but it must not be permanent and you cannot paint over the bright coloured parts.

 

It is slightly unclear as to whether you can paint an IF after you have gained your skirmish defence. This will probably remain unclear until it has been tested in court. Most commentators believe it would be within the spirit of the law however.

 

Non-UKARA & Secondhand Sales

For non-UKARA retailers and for individuals the burden of proof is on the Seller to prove that they have sold to someone with appropriate defence. As only UKARA retailers can use their database you will not be able to check it to confirm the buyer is on there.

 

Gifting

This has uncertain legality as it has not yet been tested in court. It is believed that it is acceptable for an IF or RIF to be gifted to an individual, as long as no financial exchange has occurred. The person gifting must have come into possession of the item legally of course.

 

Swapping

Swapping effectively counts as one RIF being exchanged for another RIF, and as such both parties must demonstrate they are legitimate skirmishers. The same burden of proof requirements exist as for secondhand trades.

 

Importing & Customs

You can use your skirmishers defence to import RIFs from abroad. HMRC cannot directly check the UKARA database in these circumstances, although they will occasionally request details from them. It is important to remember UKARA was set up for UK retailers only and has no influence on retailers abroad or the import process.

 

When an RIF is flagged coming through customs it goes to a special team. They will request details from you to prove you have the appropriate defence. They may also send you RIF to a firearms expert to confirm it is not real – at your expense. Once you have provided appropriate documentation the item will be released – certainly with charges. This process can take anywhere between a couple of days to three months depending on how busy HMRC are.

 

Splitting RIFs in two to import

This is where a foreign retailer splits a RIF into two or more pieces to bypass customs ( it doesn’t count as an RIF if it is incomplete ), the recipient receives the two parts separately and then reassembles. Firstly this would count as manufacture and would be illegal without the skirmishers defence. Secondly HMRC have stated anyone caught using this method would be prosecuted for importation as it is attempting to circumvent the law. The Airsoft community in general is against such practises as we see it as harmful to our sport and may result in stricter controls.

 

Air Weapons

High powered single shot weapons, primarily Sniper rifles, are technically airweapons. This means they are covered by actual Firearms law as opposed to RIF law. This is applied differently depending on the retailer. Some retailers just class them as a subsection of RIF and treat them as such. Some treat them as an RIF, but won’t sell them over a certain power. Some retailers treat them as airweapons and sell them as such (i.e. no skirmish defence, but must be face-to-face sale). Some actually do both i.e. must be face-to-face and must be legitimate skirmisher.

 

There is no guideline as yet, and as with most VCRA aspects will not be clear until tested in court.

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Hi,

 

I was wondering if I needed to complete a new insurance waver each time I play do ukara know when and which sites I play at as I probably will do a few different ones

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Hi Rikk,

 

You only need to complete a new insurance waiver if you have not signed one in the last 12 months. On the UKARA front, they don't have a real time record of where you are playing. You need to have your UKARA from stamped by your regular site:

 

"You then have a form to complete which is stamped by the site operator to confirm you are regular. You then send the form to a UKARA retailer who inputs it onto the database First and Only can now process this. You can then use your member number to buy your RIF from the retailer. The retailer will only ship the item to the address you are registered at."

 

​Normally this needs to be at the same site.

 

Which is your regular site?

 

Rich

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Hello,

 

I received an email from the UKARA mailer on Tuesday titled 'UKARA Online Database - New Player'. Does this mean that my details have just been entered and pending full authorisation? Or that my details are just on the database and now I'm able to purchase RIFs?

 

If it is the second option, do I just use my player number as the code to enter when asked when I'm making a purchase?

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So I did a self check and got an email back saying that the following details are on the system,

 

Player Number

Expiry date

Player Name

Post code

Email Address

Date of Birth

Player Status

Skirmish Site

Site Status

 

I'm guessing that this email confirms that my details are on the database?

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