Prompted by the tragic events last year in Cumbria, the Home Affairs Committee (HAC) of the House of Commons announced its intention to hold an inquiry into controls on firearms.
Their ultimate aim was to examine whether there was a need to change any parts of the current shooting legislation as a means of preventing gun violence and protecting public safety. And even though a whole raft of new laws - the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and Crime and Security Act 2010 - have indirectly imposed new measures on the control of airguns, they were still to be included in the inquiry.
The HAC inquiry was submitted to the Government in December 2010, and I've now got hold of their responses to the recommendations proposed therein.
I’m pleased to report that the Government considers the misuse of airguns to be by a minority, and that the aforementioned Acts have made in-roads into reducing the airgun problems they perceived were there. (Note my use of the word 'perceived'!)
I’m even more pleased that they have finally put into writing that they have no plans to ban, nor licence airguns. In short, they accept that there is enough existing legislation to combat any problem.
However, we airgunners must not let that be an excuse to become lax – we must all still act with the utmost responsibility when we're undertaking our favourite pastime, and consider shooting airguns as a privilege, not a right.
As you can see from the following key elements of the Government’s response to the question whether low-powered airguns should be incorporated into the firearms licensing regime, we must never take our airgunning for granted in this day and age.
“The Government has no plans to ban or licence air weapons, the vast majority of which are used safely and responsibly, and prefers to tackle the minority who misuse air weapons. The Government agrees that enforcement of the wide range of existing controls referred to in the Committee’s report and which appear to have secured significant reductions in air weapon misuse since 2003-4, might usefully form part of police activity to deal with anti-social behaviour.
The Government will continue to monitor the misuse of air weapons and will not hesitate to take further action should this prove necessary.”