Today (14th September) Parliament’s Westminster Hall saw a half hour debate on the use of airguns by under 18’s, led by Labour MP David Hanson. Wishing to highlight the dangers of airguns, and one specific fatal accident that occurred in his constituency, Mr Hanson asked the Minister in charge of firearms, Brandon Lewis MP, a number of questions for the Government to investigate.
The Countryside Alliance welcomed the chance for the use and safety of airguns to be properly debated in Parliament, as well as the Government’s response to the debate that it described as, “well-balanced and meaningful.” They have urged the UK Government not to follow the Scottish Government’s approach to airgun licensing.
David Hanson asked the Government to investigate measures to improve the safety of airgun ownership and use, suggesting the Government consider upgrading storage requirements to align with Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968 (locked in an immovable metal cabinet) and look at the introduction of licensing based on the Scottish law which comes into force next year.
Policing Minister, Brandon Lewis responded on behalf of the Government, stating that every effort should be made to reduce accidents. However, the Minister also highlighted the importance of maintaining access to airguns for people who enjoy shooting sports and need firearms for predator and pest control. He also stated that improvements have recently been made, for instance through the firearms section of the Policing and Crime Bill currently passing through Parliament.
Liam Stokes, Head of Shooting at the Countryside Alliance, said: “I am glad that an open discussion has taken place in Parliament on the use and safety of airguns. The Countryside Alliance believes all potential loopholes regarding safety should be thoroughly investigated.
“On the other hand, the licensing regime for airguns that the Scottish Government is currently pursuing is descending into farce. Worries continue to grow regarding Police Scotland’s ability to process licences on time, the lack of licence applications submitted to date and the potential boost to the black market in airguns. This is not an example to follow.
“The Countryside Alliance thanks both David Hanson, for bringing about a debate on this tough topic, and Brandon Lewis for a well-balanced and meaningful Government response.”