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Home Office bans mail-order weaponry

SKULLETTOES, Terminator daggers, Black Magic knives, the Ultimate Ninja Weapon, the Thunder Stunner, and assorted weaponry will no longer be available through the letter-box.

The Home Office has sent US Cavalry Inc, a Kentucky-based mail-order company, a list of items from its catalogue that might be seen as offensive weapons. 'We told them some of the items are prohibited in the UK and that they could be committing an offence,' a Home Office spokeswoman said. The company refused to sell any of the items, which it says are 'for defensive purposes', to the Independent.

The move comes even though, as the Home Office admits, some of the items are available over the counter in the United Kingdom. Randy Acton, president of US Cavalry, denied that the catalogues had been sent at random to addresses in the UK.

US Cavalry claims to supply 'the world's finest military and adventure equipment', though some of the prohibited items seem more like fancy-dress paraphernalia than weapons.

Top of the Home Office list were books like Improvised Munitions - 'make bombs, explosives and grenade-launchers out of common materials', and a volume on making incendiaries from soap, coffee, sugar and candles: 'In a combat situation, these skills could save your life.' The books cost dollars 19.95 ( pounds 13.20).

The largest group of banned items is the cutlery - knives and various crossbows. The Ultimate Ninja Weapon has a 2ft stainless steel blade. Twist off the handguard and there is a pair of throwing stars. Up the scabbard are a pair of eight-inch knives, a 'battle tool' and a further miniature knife. The scabbard can be used as a snorkel, or to turn the knife into a spear. And a vial in the handle can be used 'to hold your toxin for a fast and painless exit'.

The weapon is made in Spain and costs pounds 131.