New legislation has been introduced by the Government which will make it an offence to fail to properly secure airguns in order to prevent them falling into the hands of children.
From 10th February 2011, owners will be liable for a fine of up to £1,000 if they do not take reasonable precautions to stop unauthorised access to their airgun by people under 18.
The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), believes the proposed measures are common sense.
BASC is producing practical guidelines on how to abide by the law.
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “Young people who are legally allowed to use airguns will not be affected by these changes. Airgun safety is a matter of good sense and good practice and all legitimate users of airguns are aware of safety precautions including access and storage.
“It is regrettable that a small number of incidents of abuse and carelessness have prompted Government action. However, we support measures which will reduce the misuse of airguns while not further restricting the safe use of airguns by law-abiding owners.
“The Government’s impact assessment document took the very sensible and pragmatic view of the sort of security required – a lockable cupboard, or a device to lock the airgun to prevent it being removed. They estimated that such security would cost in the region of £10.
"This is a common sense approach and one which is already followed by the majority of airgun users.”
BASC welcomed comments by Home Office Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire that the majority of airgun owners act responsibly.
There are estimated to be up to seven million airguns in the UK and the proportion of accidents is very small. Airguns are commonly used for pest control in situations where they offer an effective method of humane control with minimal disturbance and risk to safety. Airguns are widely used in target shooting sports and the sale and use of airguns is already well regulated.
A BASC fact sheet entitled Young People and Airguns can be viewed here.