Minister to review airgun menace — at last!

by Gun Control Network on 13-12-2017

Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, has at last announced plans for a long overdue review of airgun legislation. Airguns are not ‘boys’ toys’; they are lethal weapons that, every year, kill and injure children, along with countless birds and animals. Airguns are also the single most common weapon to be used in gun crime. 

More than any other firearm, airguns are involved in ‘child on child’ incidents with horrific consequences. Many children, such as Ben Wragge who died at age 13 after being shot by another teenager in Thurston, Suffolk in May 2016, could be alive today if tighter regulation of airguns had been in place before now.

Ben’s grandfather, Harry Wragge says:

“If the regulations on air weapons had been tightened after the numerous earlier deaths of children, our grandson Ben would still be alive today. We welcome the review into air weapon safety announced yesterday by the Minister and hope that it results in a licensing regime that will prevent other families having to go through the trauma and heartbreak Ben’s whole family are having to endure.”

Many other children and young people have lost their lives in similar circumstances: Alexander (5), Jake (19), Rhys (10), Jonathan (5), Sam (15), Rashid (18 months), Rachel (18), Danny (17), Mitchel (12), Alex (12), Andrew (2), Scott (11), Matthew (14), George (13), Margaret (8), Danny (14) and Matthew (10).  The list goes on.

These avoidable deaths occurred because successive governments were too afraid of the gun lobby to regulate airguns in a way that befits lethal weapons. Shooting organisations have long resisted further controls of airguns as they use these dangerous weapons to attract youngsters into shooting. Even the police do not always take airgun misuse seriously and very few prosecutions have resulted from these tragic deaths.

But the climate is changing: in Northern Ireland and Scotland, airgun owners are now registered and in England and Wales more MPs are becoming sympathetic to licensing. The Gun Control Network (GCN) is delighted that the Minister has finally started to listen to the families who have suffered such great losses.

Gill Marshall-Andrews, Chair of GCN, says:

“All non-shooters will welcome the Minister’s willingness to listen to the silent majority who do not own guns of any kind.  Airguns rarely serve any useful purpose and anyone wanting to own one should have a good reason to do so.  They are not boys’ toys.  They kill and frighten people and neither the Government nor the police should turn a blind eye to their misuse.”