Sunday 30 January 2011

New airgun law - where did that come from?

A new airgun law comes into force on 10 February. You will be liable for a fine of up to £1000 if you don't lock up your airgun away from kids. Details here on the Home Office website. By kids I mean under-18s, and there's new government guidance on what they consider 'reasonable':

* store your airgun out of sight and separately from pellets
* use a robust, lockable cupboard and keep the keys separate and secure
* always store your airgun inside a house rather than in an out building, such as a garden shed
* never store a cocked or loaded airgun
* when using your airgun, keep it under close supervision and never leave it unattended

I can't argue with the stated aim of the new law, to prevent accidents and protect children. But is this any way to make firearms legislation? It's been slipped in the back door with no consultation that I was aware of - although the simultaneous publication of a supportive press release on BASC's website indicates they were involved in the process. It takes advantage of existing enabling legislation, so the minister just signs an order with no need for all that troublesome debate in parliament. I thought that was the New Labour way.

And how many children will it save? Frankly, without airgun licensing, this can only ever be enforced after the event. And anyone moronic enough to leave an airgun within reach of kids will find some other way to help them kill themselves - matches, petrol, kitchen knives, car keys (why not a law about locking up your car keys - how many kids are killed and injured that way each year?).

New government, same old rubbish attitude to guns, if you ask me.

AND ANOTHER THING... It occurs to me that this is a real danger for FAC and SGC holders - some of whom won't even have heard of it by the time their FEO next visits. FEO walks in, looks around, what's that propped up in the corner sir? Only an airgun. Hmm, got any grandchildren sir... Before you know it you've committed a firearms offence - and your shooting career is over.

With the press release coming out on 27 Jan, and the law coming into force on 10 Feb, there isn't even time for a monthly shooting magazine to tell its readers about the new law. As for those who don't read the shooting magazines - well, they may never find out.

Still, on the bright side the gunshops are rubbing their hands at the thought of all those cabinet sales!


Cloudhunter said...

Well, without reading this I'd never have known.

Anonymous said...

it's a bit fast to come in but it's one of them things i have had air guns since i was 6 years old now i am 26.I have now got a young lad he is 1 years old now but when he was born i went out and bought trigger locks for my guns even the shotguns have them on and thay are locked away in the cabinet the air gun is in a room he cant get into so am i safe that way.

James Marchington said...

Good for you - and no doubt you'll be locking up the medicine cabinet, keeping matches out of reach, etc, etc. But a law forcing you to do that, on pain of losing your sport if you make an error? It's OTT if you ask me, and just reinforces the public perception that guns do damage all on their own.

NIGE said...

I know - the announcement that the Govt were 'activating' the Commencement Order and the actual date of commencement gave the media no time at all to publish it, other than on our blogs and websites. However, I managed to talk the Home Office into getting 30,000 leaflets distributed in the next available issues of Airgun Shooter and Gun Trade News. You are right - it's a fairly pointless law... the vast majority of airgun owners will already protect against 'unauthorised access' by minors and we don't really 'need' the threat of a £1,000 fine to ensure we do so. However, I think you'll find that there was a fair amount of consultation done at the time of the Crime & Security Bill...