The Home Office airgun licensing review has closed and shooters are set against any unnecessary new legislation being introduced.
Further restrictions on airgun use in England and Wales would be “disproportionate” and “bad law”. That is the firm response from shooting groups as the Home Office draws its review of airgun licensing to a close.
The review was launched to consider whether existing legislation is sufficient to prevent children accessing airguns.
Existing legislation is enough
The deadline for public responses to the review passed two weeks ago and the Home Office is now considering its decision. Northern Ireland already has airgun licensing and it was introduced in Scotland just last year. But shooting groups say that existing legislation is more than adequate for England and Wales.
Jack Knott, campaigns manager at the Countryside Alliance (CA), commented: “The CA has always supported the Government’s aim to address the misuse of firearms, including airguns. Where there are measures that can be implemented to improve the safety of airgun use, within the existing legislation, then these should be supported.
“We do not believe that further legislation in this area is necessary at present. Where offences involving airguns are committed, or even minor nuisances caused, there is more than adequate legislation to enable prosecutions to be brought against offenders.”
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“Unjustified law is bad law”
On the issue of licensing, Mr Knott said: “It would appear the Home Office is interested in following Scotland and Northern Ireland in the licensing of airguns. Unless evidence is provided that the licensing of airguns will provide a benefit to the public and outweighs any potential consequences, the CA will not support any change. Unjustified law is bad law.”
Rory O’Loughlin, from BASC’s firearms team, agreed, saying: “Airguns are firearms under the law and are regulated appropriately, more so than the general public is aware. The law was changed in 2010 and already addresses the issue of young people having access to airguns.
“There has been a 77 per cent reduction in airgun offences from 2003 to 2016; this proves that existing law is working and there is no need for any more. Introducing further national restrictions would be disproportionate.”