Select Committee on Home Affairs Second Report


AIR WEAPONS

120. We have argued above that a system of firearms control should be consistent in its application, simple to understand and administer, and should apply to all firearms with the potential to kill, regardless of the mechanical operation of the firearm. The present unlicensed status of low-powered air weapons clearly runs contrary to a number of these principles. While 1.64 million legally held section 1 firearms and shotguns fall within the licensing system, an estimated 4 million low-powered air weapons—seven out of every ten legally held firearms—fall outside it.[199] No provision is made for the secure storage of low-powered air weapons, nor for any assessment of a person's fitness to own or use such weapons. The raft of statutory controls on low-powered air weapons appear complex and difficult to interpret and apply consistently.

121. One of the factors prompting this inquiry was our awareness of an apparently rising trend in the misuse of low-powered air weapons. We announced at the outset of this inquiry that we would be examining the extent of problems caused by the misuse of air weapons, whether the existing legislation was adequate to deal with these problems, and whether any further controls were necessary. In the paragraphs below we detail the present controls, set out our assessment of the scale and nature of air weapon abuse, and examine proposals for changes to the present controls.

PRESENT CONTROLS

122. Air weapons—firearms powered by compressed air or carbon dioxide—fall into three categories for the purpose of firearms control.[200] Those which have a power level of less than 1 ft/lb are not, in law, considered capable of inflicting lethal wounds and are thus not considered firearms for the purposes of the Firearms Acts. Those with power levels of between 1 and 12 ft/lb (for air rifles) or 1 and 6 ft/lb (for air pistols) are considered low-powered air weapons and do not fall within the present licensing regime, although the Firearms Acts contain a package of statutory controls intended to prevent their misuse: a summary is provided in Table 1. Air weapons above the stipulated power levels are subject to the same controls as section 1 firearms.

TABLE 2: AIR WEAPON OFFENCES AND PRESENT PENALTIES

Offence
Maximum penalty
Carrying a loaded air weapon in a public place 6 months imprisonment and/or £5,000 fine
Trespassing with an air weapon3 months imprisonment and/or £2,500 fine
Trespassing on private land with an air weapon 3 months imprisonment and/or £2,500 fine
Possessing or using air weapon if sentenced to
3 months or more in custody:

In addition:

      — if original sentence up to three years

      — if sentence of three years or more
3 months imprisonment
and/or £2,500 fine



5 year ban on use of firearms

life ban on use of firearms
Killing or injuring any bird or protected animal unless authorised £5,000 fine
Firing air weapon within 15m/50ft of a road or street £1,000
Selling or hiring air weapon or ammunition to person under 17 6 months imprisonment and/or £5,000 fine
Making a gift of air weapon or ammunition to person under 14 £1,000 fine
Having air weapon or ammunition with intent to damage property 10 years imprisonment
Having air weapon with intent to endanger life life imprisonment and/or appropriate fine
Using air weapon to resist or prevent arrest life imprisonment and/or appropriate fine
Threatening others with an air weapon (even if unloaded) to cause them to fear unlawful violence 10 years imprisonment and/or appropriate fine


CLASSIFICATION OF AIR WEAPONS

123. The power level at and above which an air weapon is considered a firearm in law is presently set at 1 ft/lb. However, we note above that the Forensic Science Agency of Northern Ireland has more recently assessed the power level at which a barrelled weapon is capable of inflicting a lethal wound as between 2.2 and 3 ft/lb, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has proposed that the law relating to firearms in Northern Ireland be amended to take this into account.[201]

124. Commenting on the Secretary of State's proposals, Mr Steven W Kendrick and others questioned the agency's assessment. They contended that lethal injuries could not be inflicted by a weapon with a muzzle energy of less than 4 ft/lb: they believed that the level should be set at 3.9 ft/lb.[202] This, they argued, would allow the unlicensed possession of popular ranges of air pistol with muzzle energies of around 3.5 ft/lb.

125. The power levels above which air weapons are treated as section 1 firearms are set out in the Firearms (Dangerous Air Weapons) Rules 1969. Mr Clarke told us that when the levels were determined, they

    "were intended to include those types of air weapons in common circulation at the time. These in turn were based, for air rifles, around the muzzle energy needed for shooting small vermin such as rats or rabbits. The limit for air pistols was intended to reduce the likely harm these might cause if misused to a minimum".[203]

Mr Bill Harriman, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, noted that

    "air rifles whose energy value is near to this [12 ft/lb] limit are very useful for shooting . . . . pests, particularly in places where it would be dangerous or inappropriate to use a cartridge firearm".[204]

He told us that in practice airgun manufacturers produced air weapons with a "'safety zone' which is broad enough to keep energy levels away from the upper limit in the event that something [e.g. a lighter pellet or over-oiling of the barrel] causes the original energy level to rise".[205] This meant that the effective power limit for low-powered air rifles was between 10 and 10½ ft/lb: for air pistols the limit was effectively reduced to 3 ft/lb.

126. The Firearms Consultative Committee considered the issue in 1998-99 and recommended no change to the existing power levels, on the grounds that the present levels still allowed air rifles capable of dispatching rabbits, small game and vermin to be held without certificate. The benefits of this to the farmer and landowner are clear. It is not necessarily clear, however, that this arrangement provides sufficient protection for the public.

127. Mr O'Brien, for the Police Federation, and Assistant Commissioner Hart, for ACPO, believed that the threshold above which an air weapon is treated as a section 1 firearm required reassessment. Mr Hart believed that serious injuries could be caused at energy levels well below the present cut-off of 12 ft/lb, and believed that relatively low-powered air weapons could be "re-energised" to take them over the high-powered air weapon threshold.[206] The Scottish police associations, in a submission to the Firearms Consultative Committee, recommended the introduction of a common standard for the testing of air weapons. They stated that

    "air rifles are now available which can be adjusted to produce kinetic energy of up to 95 ft/lb . . . other air rifles are being developed to produce a kinetic energy of 150 ft/lb or more . . . the rapid development of air weapons should be a matter for urgent consideration . . . with a view to prohibiting/restricting automatic air weapons or the manufacture of those capable of adjustment to discharge a missile producing kinetic energy above an appropriate level".[207]

128. The apparent confusion between two Government agencies over the lowest power level at which a firearm can inflict a lethal wound indicates to us that the definition of lethality in law—and thus the definition of a firearm—admits a certain amount of room for interpretation. We believe that this confusion ought to be addressed, and that an authoritative assessment of the power level at which lethality is judged to occur should be provided. We recommend that the Government establish unambiguous criteria for judging the lethality of a firearm, and undertake the necessary research to provide an authoritative assessment of the power level at which a firearm is considered lethal.

129. The recommendation of the Scottish police services also indicates that assessments of the power levels of air weapons are not being performed to a common standard. We recommend that the Home Office and the Forensic Science Service introduce a common standard for the testing of air weapons.

130. We are also concerned about the technological developments which the Scottish police associations have brought to our attention. If their fears are well-founded, the present controls are likely to be fundamentally undermined unless the issue is urgently addressed. We recommend that the Government assess present developments in air weapon technology as a matter of urgency, amend the Firearms (Dangerous Air Weapons) Rules to take into account any particular dangers to public safety, and publicise such dangers.

EVIDENCE OF MISUSE

131. Notifiable offences committed with air weapons have consistently accounted for over half the total annual number of firearms offences over the past ten years. The 8,665 recorded offences committed with air weapons in England and Wales in 1998/99 accounted for 62.4% of all recorded firearms offences in that financial year. Of these offences, 6,362 (73.4%, or 45.8% of all offences) were offences of criminal damage, and 1,849 (21.3%, or 13.3% of all offences) were offences of violence against the person which did not endanger life (e.g. superficial wounding or bruising).[208]

132. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation and Mr Colin Greenwood were both keen to point out that the apparent increase in recorded criminal damage offences was, in their view, related to the practice adopted by the Home Office until 1 April 1998 of recording only offences which caused damage worth £20 or over.[209] Over time, they argued, the relative value of the minimum notifiable offence had decreased and the number of notifiable offences had consequently risen. This is a point which the Home Office has acknowledged.[210] Future editions of Criminal Statistics will record details of all criminal damage offences, to whatever value, and ought therefore over time to provide a more accurate baseline for the recording of this category of firearm-related offence.

133. The National Small-bore Rifle Association believed that instances of air weapon abuse fell into two broad categories: accidental and unsupervised misuse, often by the very young, and deliberate hooliganism by youths. It held that offences in both these categories were difficult to prevent, and doubted that further legislation would help: "why replace one unenforceable law with another which is equally ineffective?"[211]

134. Some witnesses seemed to consider most instances of air weapon abuse to be trivial; other submissions contended that such instances were exaggerated by the media.[212] In fact, we believe that the problem covers a wide range of offences, from the apparently trivial (firing an air weapon at a neighbour's property or shooting on canal banks) to the utterly tragic (the death of a child playing unsupervised with an air weapon, or the serious injury caused to a person hit in a vulnerable area by a pellet).[213] A mother from North Wales, whose eleven year-old son was killed as a result of playing unsupervised with a low-powered air rifle, wrote to ask us to consider further controls on air weapons.[214] During an adjournment debate on 23 June 1999, Jeff Ennis MP also raised a number of cases of serious injury caused by air weapons.[215]

135. We are extremely concerned at the number of serious injuries caused by air weapons: these accounted for almost half the reported serious firearm-related injuries in 1998/99. We are not inclined, either, to dismiss other air weapon offences as trivial. Offences of criminal damage regularly account for roughly three quarters of the annual total of recorded air weapon offences. However minimal the damage caused may be, the offence does not just indicate petty and mindless vandalism: it also indicates an illegal and uncontrolled discharge from a firearm. Such discharges—of which the number of offences recorded represent only a fraction—must be considered as threats to public safety, especially as they may be committed with weapons which have the capacity to inflict a clean kill on small vermin.

136. The Home Office told us that the annual total of notifiable offences caused by air weapons had risen steadily from 5,172 in 1987 to 7,506 in 1997, an overall increase of some 45%.[216] Airgun misuse causing injury to the person had steadily declined over the same period, from 1,782 to 1,194, a fall of 33%: less than 11% of these offences in 1997 related to injuries of more than "superficial bruising".[217]

137. Between 1997 and 1998/99 the total of air weapon offences rose from 7,506 to 8,665, an increase of 15%. However, it is likely that the new rules for recording notifiable offences[218] may have exaggerated the scale of the overall increase:

  • recorded criminal damage offences rose by 10%, following the change in counting rules to record reported offences of whatever value;
  • the number of occurrences of injury to the person rose of 25%, in part attributable to new counting rules;
  • the number of serious injuries recorded rose only slightly, from 125 to 131.

138. In June 1999 the then Minister, Mr Boateng, welcomed indications that the trend in serious air weapon injuries appeared to be decreasing, although he gave due acknowledgment to the seriousness of the problem.[219] The present Minister, Mr Clarke, told us that he personally believed that the increase in the total of air weapon offences was an unhealthy development. However, he judged that the implications for public safety might be insufficiently serious to warrant the imposition of further controls on us that low-powered air weapons: "the extent to which legislation would help deal with this problem is a very major question".[220]

139. Further evidence showed that Home Office statistics might seriously underestimate the scale of the problems caused by intentional misuse of air weapons. Mr Kevin Degenhard, of the RSPCA, estimated that 10,000 domestic cats had been injured by air weapons in 1996, a figure repeated by the Home Office: this in a year when a total of 7,800 air weapon offences were notified to the police. He cited a Cats Protection League survey carried out over the same year, in which three-quarters of 1,300 veterinary practices consulted reported treating animals injured by air weapon pellets.[221] RSPCA inspectors regularly reported instances of wounding of wild animals, such as badgers or swans, though Mr Degenhard acknowledged that the statistical evidence for these occurrences was incomplete. A number of individual witnesses made clear to us the distress caused by wanton maiming or killing of pets. While penalties for offences of this kind are severe, and prosecutions are not uncommon, the RSPCA finds it difficult to bring charges against offenders because of the clandestine nature of such offences.[222] However, the RSPCA told ballistics technology enabled fired pellets to be traced back to a rifle: several successful prosecutions had already been brought on this basis.[223]

MEASURES TO COMBAT ABUSE

140. Representations for tighter controls over the possession of air weapons fell into four categories: an outright ban, an increase in age limits, better enforcement of the existing law, and further licensing. We consider these options below: the present law's provisions for possession of all firearms by young people are discussed in more detail at paragraph 175.

Prohibition

141. One solution would be to prohibit the possession of low-powered air weapons outright, as suggested in some submissions. Although a ban would in principle remove the source of the problem, in practice youths would be able to achieve the same effect by using slingshots, catapults or crossbows.[224] The Home Office pointed out that exemptions would have to be made to allow for the use of low-powered air weapons in vermin control.[225]

142. Young people typically enter the sport of target shooting through the safe and supervised use of low-powered air weapons. The law at present allows young people to use section 1 firearms—including high-powered air weapons—without a licence at approved gun clubs. To prohibit the possession and use of low-powered air weapons would mean that young people wishing to learn to shoot rifles would have to be trained on relatively high-powered weapons.

143. While a ban would, in the long term, be easier to enforce and administer than a system of licensing, it would certainly be regarded as disproportionate, especially when higher-powered air weapons would still be available on a section 1 licence, and would not address the problems of petty vandalism and criminal damage which give rise to the greatest number of complaints against low-powered air weapons. We do not believe that an absolute ban on low-powered air weapons is an appropriate measure to tackle the problem of air weapon abuse.

Age limits

144. At present, children of any age may use air weapons, subject to certain controls. Children under 14 may not buy, hire, be given or own air weapons or ammunition. They may use them under the supervision of a person over the age of 21, as long as they do not shoot beyond the boundaries of the property or premises where they are using the weapon. They may also use them for target practice at approved clubs, or at a shooting gallery for air weapons or miniature rifles. Young people between the ages of 14 and 17 may be given or lent air weapons and ammunition, but may not themselves buy or hire them. They may carry an air rifle (though not an air pistol) in a public place, as long as it is covered by a securely-fastened gun cover; they may use an air weapon for target practice at an approved club of which they are a member, or at a shooting gallery as above.[226]

145. Mr Degenhard of the RSPCA, in common with ACPO and the Scottish police associations, advocated raising the age at which one could have unsupervised access to air weapons from 14 to 18.[227] The Home Office noted that this solution was attractive: it would be relatively simple to introduce and to operate, and fewer police resources would be required to implement it. However, to raise the age at which low-powered air weapons could be possessed and used unsupervised to 18 would create an anomaly in the present system, unless the law relating to shotguns and section 1 firearms were altered accordingly. We deal further with the issue of access to firearms by minors at paragraph 175 below.

Enforcement of existing legislation

146. The National Small-bore Rifle Association suggested that the existing law on air weapons should be better enforced. The range of offences relating to air weapon misuse is rather broad, and the penalties for such offences are heavy. Lieutenant Colonel Hoare stated that "the law, as it stands at the moment, is not enforced, and it is not monitored in its enforcement".[228] The Firearms Consultative Committee made a similar case in its Tenth Report, arguing for a joint campaign of education—to reduce accidents and misuse of air weapons—and enforcement of the existing law on firearms.[229]

147. Mr Clarke acknowledged that this might be a way forward:

    "it is certainly the case . . . that a more effective use of the existing law can make a difference. The question . . . is whether it will make enough of a difference to mean it was not worth introducing a change in the law".[230]

Both the FCC and Mr Clarke noted that the enforcement of firearms legislation was not the only means of dealing with problems of casual air weapon abuse. The FCC noted that "most of the active misuse of airguns involve[d] a range of offences against the existing law, other than the Firearms Acts", and we note that cases of air weapon abuse are often not prosecuted principally as firearms offences. Mr Degenhard of the RSPCA identified young people between 11 and 16 as the target group of offenders: the Home Office in its memorandum stated that the measures recently introduced by the Government to attack juvenile offending might prove effective against the root causes of such offences.[231] We believe that a proportion of air weapon abuse committed by juveniles may derive from wider social problems which will not be properly addressed simply by tightening firearms controls.

148. We accept that the present law on low-powered air weapons may be difficult to enforce, and that it may not provide the most effective means of dealing with the root causes of much of the misuse of air weapons. Equally, however, we recognise that the present law offers the only means immediately available to address air weapon abuse. We recommend that the existing legislation controlling the use of low-powered air weapons should be more thoroughly enforced, and that, where appropriate, local strategies should be devised between police forces, schools and community leaders to reduce the misuse of air weapons.

149. In addition to the enforcement of existing legislation, we recommend that the Government and police forces should work together on the following initiatives aimed at reducing air weapon abuse:

  • a national air weapons hand-in campaign;
  • a targeted programme of public education on the proper storage and use of air weapons;
  • an encouragement towards a common safety standard for the storage of air weapons;
  • an enforcement of the present restriction on the sale and availability of air weapons, and air weapon ammunition, to those under 17;
  • a requirement on air weapons dealers to include safety literature with all air weapons sold;
  • further development of safe training programmes in association with the National Small-bore Rifle Association.

Licensing low-powered air weapons

150. The Gun Control Network, the RSPCA, the Police Superintendents Association and the Police Federation called for section 1 controls to be applied to low-powered air weapons, on grounds of their essential lethality. This approach would require the owner to demonstrate both fitness to possess a firearm, and a good reason for owning and using a low-powered air weapon. He would also be required to ensure its safe storage. In practice, this would confine the use of such weapons to target shooting at approved rifle clubs and to the control of vermin on farms and estates. For the RSPCA, certification was essential to enable the owners of weapons known, through tracing, to have injured animals to be successfully pursued and prosecuted.

151. The shooting organisations unanimously opposed the extension of section 1 licensing to cover low-powered air weapons. We also note that the Scottish police associations did not support an extension of the licensing regime.[232] The Home Office observed that there were real and practical concerns about the additional day-to-day strain such a proposal might place on a firearms licensing system, not to mention the initial burden of issuing the several million additional certificates which would be required.[233] Mr Hart, for ACPO, was unsure that the registration of air weapons presently in circulation would be cost-effective, although he supported a "public surrender system".[234] It is conceivable that a large proportion of the low-powered air weapons in circulation would remain unlicensed and therefore effectively beyond controls. Licensing may not significantly reduce the overall numbers of injuries to animals and persons, or the incidence of criminal damage, as other devices (such as catapults) are available which are just as lethal but cannot presently be made subject to controls.

152. While the licensing of lethal air weapons is attractive in principle, we recognise that it would be difficult to introduce and apply to the estimated four million low-powered air weapons already in circulation. The situation in Northern Ireland, where all air weapons are held on certificate, has only obtained because of the separate and more stringent legislation applied there since 1920. For the past eighty years, air weapons of whatever power purchased there have required a certificate. If similar controls were applied only to new air weapons purchased in Great Britain, full licensing of the number of low-powered air weapons in private hands would take several years to achieve.

153. We asked several witnesses who had recommended wholesale licensing to assess what the resource implications of attempting to register an estimated four million air weapons might be. Mr Degenhard, for the RSPCA, believed that such a task should not be avoided merely because it appeared difficult.[235] Assistant Commissioner Hart, speaking for ACPO, believed that as police forces had successfully handled the surrender of handguns, they could handle a licensing scheme.[236] Mrs Gill Marshall-Andrews, of the Gun Control Network, set this issue, and other related issues of cost in relation to firearms licensing, against the broader concerns and interests of society:

    " . . . it is our view that there is a social cost that is incalculable to gun violence, death, injury, suicide and accidents. Whatever the cost of any of these recommendations, it must be weighed against the social and economic cost of violence in society".[237]

154. None of the evidence which we received in support of a licensing regime attempted to quantify the costs or resource implications involved, but we can arrive at a reasonable estimate merely by examining the order of magnitude of the figures involved. Even assuming only half the supposed number of unlicensed air weapons in England, Scotland and Wales were submitted for registration and licensing, the workload of licensing departments would more than double. We note below the difficulties which police forces are having in developing a national register of firearm and shotgun certificate holders, and we can imagine the strain an extra two million records will place on present police resources.[238]

  155. We recognise the difficulties involved in extending a licensing system to low-powered air weapons. Nevertheless, we do not accept that any lethal weapons should fall outwith firearms licensing, even if—for reasons of practicality—the regime may have to be transitory for the short to medium term. If a system of firearms control is to be consistent and simple to administer, while recognising the lethality of all firearms, it will need to be extended to lower-powered air weapons which are lethal. Licensing will require the air weapon owner to demonstrate fitness to possess firearms and a good reason for wishing to do so: it will also require owners to provide appropriate safe storage for their weapons.

  156. We have noted above the ambiguities around the power levels at which an air weapon, when fired, has the potential to kill, and we have recommended that the Government should establish unambiguous criteria for judging the lethality of a firearm. The Government should provide an authoritative assessment of the power level at which lethality occurs. This should establish a sound basis for a system of firearms licensing which explicitly recognises a firearm's potential to kill. As we have set out in paragraphs 123 and 124 above, there have been assessments which might set an effective level at that proposed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (i.e. 2.2-3 ft/lb) or at the level proposed in response (i.e. 3.9 ft/lb). We recommend that the threshold at which air weapons must be licensed is set at that power level at which the potential to kill is proven by the best scientific evidence. Below that level of lethality, licensing would impose too onerous a burden for too little benefit; above it, however, licensing is necessary—for the safety of the public, and for the integrity and consistency of the licensing regime itself.

  157. The Dechmont Airgun Club, in south-east Glasgow, provided an example of the problems which might come about following a poorly-considered implementation of a licensing regime.[239] The club appears to have had an admirable training, discipline and safety policy, and worked to provide sporting opportunities for young people in the area. The local crime prevention panels considered the level of air weapon abuse in the area to be particularly low. Following the Dunblane tragedy Glasgow City Council's policy changed, effectively preventing the club from using the council-owned hall where its youth activities were based. The closure of the youth section of the club had led to "an increase in the incidence of gun misuse due to lack of proper training and shooting facilities for local young people." The club stressed that further restrictions might punish the law-abiding and have no significant effect on air weapon abuse: "any further legal restrictions would of course be obeyed by the law abiding majority of [an] estimated seven million airgun users but ignored by the minority of thugs who cause the problem in the first place."

  158. The strategy to be followed in implementing a licensing scheme to cover the majority of those air weapons which are at present unlicensed will thus require very careful consideration. The law-abiding should not be unfairly penalised while the lawless and irresponsible can operate with relative impunity. Any strategy to implement an extension of the licensing system must recognise the likelihood that a sizeable minority of airgun owners, who do not respect the discipline and responsibility engendered by the shooting community, will ignore the law and keep their air weapons in what will in effect become another pool of unlicensed and illegal firearms.

  159. Licensing all existing air weapon owners and their firearms will be difficult to achieve unless the proposed measures are felt by those affected to be fair and proportionate. An extension of the licensing system to air weapons would be made easier to implement effectively if, for a transitional period, no licence fee should be charged on newly registered air weapons. While we believe in principle that the firearms licensing system should continue to be financed from licence receipts and not from public funds, the public safety interest in this case justifies that the initial administration of the system be funded from the public purse. This will also give a strong incentive for people to register or hand in their weapons within the transitional period.

160. We recommend that there should be a transitional period of eighteen months to two years at the start of the new licensing system for air weapons. No licensing fees would be charged for the registration of air weapons owned at the beginning of the transitional period. At the same time a public education campaign should be undertaken to encourage as many air weapon owners as possible into the licensing system. The transitional period would also allow any unwanted air weapons to be handed in and disposed of. At the end of the transitional period the licensing regime would take full effect, with appropriate penalties for unlicensed owners of air weapons.

161. Responsibility for drawing up and implementing this extension of the licensing regime will fall to the Home Office, operating in association with the police. There is of course potential for the implementation of any system of this magnitude to run considerably over budget. We expect detailed plans for the implementation of any significant extension to the firearms licensing regime to be properly quantified and costed by the Government and by the implementing authorities.

162. We do not envisage the full rigour of the section 1 licensing regime being imposed on the holders of relatively low-powered air weapons. We agree that the test of fitness for possession of a firearm ought to be standard. However, we believe that the test of good reason for possessing a low-powered air weapon should take into account the wide range of use for low-powered air weapons which exists at present: for instance, a parent, not wishing to shoot, could be granted a certificate in order to allow a child to learn and practice the safe handling of firearms at home as well as at a gun club. Requirements for secure storage ought to be designed principally to ensure that children are not able to have access to air weapons without proper supervision: they should not necessarily be as rigorous as those which apply to section 1 firearms or to shotguns.


199   Figures for section 1 firearms and shotguns as at 31 December 1998: Home Office Statistical Bulletin 22/99, Firearm Certificate StatisticsBack

200   The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, s. 48, extended the definition of air weapons in the Firearms Acts and associated secondary legislation to include weapons powered by carbon dioxide. Back

201   Control of Firearms-Proposals for Reform: a review of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (Northern Ireland Office, April 1998). Back

202   Peter H Jackson, Steven W Kendrick, Cleland Rogers, Guy Savage and Jonathan M Spencer, Comments to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland concerning the proposals for reform of firearms control, June 1998: available on the Internet at http://www.cybershooters.org/PDFdocs/NI%20proposals.PDF. Mr Kendrick's summary of his evidence to this inquiry is published at Appendix 53. Back

203   Appendix 60. Back

204   Appendix 47. Back

205   Ibid. Back

206   Q 50. Back

207   Appendix 4. It is assumed that these are weapons which at their lowest setting can pass as low-powered. Back

208   Criminal Statistics (England and Wales) 1997 (Cm 4162). Back

209   Appendix 20, para 2.5 and Q 106. Back

210   Appendix 1, section B.  Back

211   Appendix 25, para 2.2.3. Back

212   See, for example, Appendix 51 (Professor A Richard Horrocks). Back

213   The Gun Control Network submitted a list of newspaper articles detailing incidents of air weapon misuse (Appendix 18, Annex II), and Jane Davidson AM submitted a petition on behalf of her constituent Mr Allan R Evans, who cited several instances of air weapon abuse in the Pontypridd area (Appendix 49). Back

214   Not printed (Ms Jayne Atkinson). Back

215   HC Deb, 23 June 1999, cols. 1257-1266. Dr Nick Palmer MP also moved the Acquisition and Possession of Air Weapons (Restriction) Bill under the ten minute rule on 21January 1999 (cols. 1014-1017). Back

216   Appendix 1, section B. Back

217   Appendix 1, section B. Back

218   For the Home Office explanation of the new rules, see Appendix 60. Back

219   HC Deb, 21 June 1999, cols. 1263-64. See also Appendix 25, section 2.2. (National Small-bore Rifle Association). Back

220   QQ 389, 406. Back

221   Q 235, and Appendix 1, section B. Back

222   Appendix 1, section B. Back

223   QQ 236-7. Back

224   Appendix 1, section B: the Home Office memorandum deals with crossbows at section G. Back

225   Ibid. Back

226   A fuller summary of the controls on the possession and use of firearms by minors is given at paragraph 175 below. Back

227   QQ 240 and 251 and Appendix 15 (RSPCA); Appendix 2 (ACPO) and Appendix 4 (Scottish police associations). Back

228   Q 199. Back

229   FCC Tenth Report, p. 15. Back

230   Q 441. Back

231   Appendix 1, section B. Back

232   Appendix 4. Back

233   Appendix 1, section B. Back

234   Q 32 and Appendix 2, paras. 8 and 9. Back

235   Q 233. Back

236   Q 33. Back

237   Q 327. Back

238   See below, paras. 198-202. Back

239   Appendix 46. Back


 
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