Skip to main content

Air Guns (Control)

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

The Petition of residents of North Norfolk and others,

Declares the Petitioners’ serious concern at the dangers posed to dogs, humans and other animals by the lack of controls over access to air guns; notes the distress that the loss of a beloved family pet can cause; expresses the Petitioners’ sympathy with the Currah family; and considers that the lack of practical restrictions on the use and purchase of air guns needs to be urgently addressed.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to confirm they will take action to enforce the restrictions on the sale and use of air guns.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Norman Lamb, Official Report, 13 July 2009; Vol. 496, c. 128 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Home Department, received 12 October 2009:

The Government totally condemn the irresponsible or malicious use of air weapons and has the deepest sympathy for those people who are injured or whose pets are killed or maimed as a result.

The Government keep controls on air weapons under close scrutiny and has strengthened the law considerably on several recent occasions. There is now a range of strict laws against the misuse of air guns, including a prohibition on the sale of air guns to under-18s and controls on their possession in public. No one is allowed to have a loaded weapon in a public place without reasonable excuse or lawful authority. Businesses which sell air weapons are now required to register with the police as dealers and to complete sales on a face-to-face basis.

It is an offence for persons of any age to fire an air weapon across the boundary of premises or to fire an air weapon within 50 feet (15 metres) of the centre of a public road in such a way as to endanger or impede any road user. It is an offence to shoot pets and protected wild birds or animals.

Other offences include trespass with an air weapon, having an air weapon with intent to damage property and having an air weapon with intent to endanger life. The legislation gives courts the power to inflict a range of penalties ranging from heavy fines to life imprisonment for the really serious offences.

There are encouraging signs that the new measures are beginning to work and air gun offences are currently at their lowest level since the 1980’s. While this reduction in the number of offences is to be welcomed, the Government are not complacent and will continue to keep controls under review to ensure that the irresponsible, reckless and criminal misuse of air weapons is tackled vigorously wherever it occurs.