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Use of airguns in England and Wales under review

“No need for additional legislation restricting the sale or use of airguns”, says the Countryside Alliance

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The Government is being urged not to introduce additional legislation restricting the use of airguns in England and Wales, which is under review after a child was wounded in Bristol.

The Countryside Alliance (CA) said that though it is right that gun laws should be revisited when tragedies occur, “we do not see a need for additional legislation restricting their sale or use”.

Commitment to review

Policing minister Nick Hurd MP has committed to review the regulation of airguns as part of the Government’s response to a debate in the House of Commons on the use and control of airguns.

Responding for the Government, Mr Hurd said: “I think that this is an appropriate time to take stock of the regulatory position and assess whether the current controls, which are already strong, continue to be appropriate and effective.”

The CA sent out a briefing note ahead of the debate, stressing the importance of airguns for pest control and sport shooting.

The minister gave an assurance that the CA, and other shooting organisations, would be consulted as part of the review. He said he intended “to look carefully at the existing controls on air weapons, including how best to ensure that such weapons are stored safely and securely”, which will include a consideration of compulsory trigger locks and a requirement to keep airguns in a locked cabinet, as well as consideration of the situation in Scotland, where compulsory licensing for airguns was introduced at the beginning of the year.

However, the minister stressed that the Government recognised the legitimate use of airguns and also said that the review will take place “against the background of existing controls that are, by all internal comparisons, very robust and a long-term decline in the number of crimes involving air weapons”.

Tough existing gun laws

Liam Stokes, head of shooting at the CA, commented: “We are rightly proud of our tough gun laws in this country, and the resulting low levels of gun crime and gun-related accidents. It is right that when tragedies do occur, our gun laws are revisited to ensure they are fit for purpose.
“At the CA we have always supported legislation that protects public safety without disproportionately disadvantaging the legal shooting community, which has consistently shown itself to be law-abiding and safe.

“Airguns are widely used for target shooting and pest control, and at this time we do not see a need for additional legislation restricting their sale or use.”