Crossbow laws could be tightened in wake of Windsor Castle incident

Crossbow laws may be tightened by Priti Patel after an armed intruder who had allegedly threatened to assassinate the Queen broke into the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The Home Secretary has ordered a review of rules that currently allow anyone over 18 to buy a “lethal” crossbow without needing a licence or any checks, The Telegraph has learned.

Police arrested a 19-year-old man carrying a crossbow early on Christmas Day after he scaled a fence at Windsor, where the Queen was due to celebrate with her family.

Minutes earlier, the teenage suspect, named as Jaswant Singh Chail from Southampton, had posted a video threatening  to “assassinate the Queen” in revenge for the 1919 Amritsar massacre. The suspect’s father said on Monday “something has gone horribly wrong” with his son, who has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Whitehall sources said officials had been told to “incorporate any lessons” from the potential attack on the Queen into a review of crossbow laws ordered earlier this year.

It’s been revealed a 19-year-old intruder who was arrested in the grounds of Windsor Castle was armed with a crossbow – and it’s claimed he intended to assassinate the Queen. https://t.co/gYFVWBqbT0 @MKarstunen #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/cYpXXfWYOP

— 7NEWS Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) December 27, 2021

Recommendations could range from keeping the status quo to toughening up the law, it is understood.

Despite being linked to a number of high-profile murders and violent attacks in recent years, crossbows can currently be bought freely on sites including Amazon for as little as £60. More powerful versions with draw weights of up to 185lbs can be bought from archery shops for about £500.

It is not illegal to own one in the UK and a licence or registration is not needed for purchase.

However, pressure for tighter regulation came after the five-day inquest into the death of Shane Gilmer, who was fatally shot with a crossbow by Anthony Lawrence, his neighbour, in 2018.

Prof Paul Marks, the coroner, submitted an official prevention of future deaths report to the Home Secretary in May 2021, in which he said he was concerned there was “no ongoing control, record or licensing requirement for crossbows” unlike firearms and shotguns. 

Because of this, he said, “the police have no record of who owns crossbows, how they are stored or the number that are in circulation”.

Timeline for incidents involving a crossbow

The coroner called on the Government to review the Crossbows Act 1987 and the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, “with the intention of regulating the sale and possession of these lethal weapons”.

Laura Sugden, Mr Gilmer’s partner who was injured in the attack while 20 weeks pregnant, also called for legislation governing these “lethal, medieval weapons” to be brought into line with firearms laws.

A Government source said: “A review of crossbow ownership and regulation is underway and ministers will be presented with options in the new year. It was instituted by the Home Secretary earlier this year and will incorporate any lessons to be learned from the latest incident.”

Scotland Yard confirmed detectives were “assessing the contents of a video” following the arrest of a 19-year-old man from Southampton.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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