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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 17:49 GMT
Airgun plea after toddler's death
Andrew Morton
The call to hand in airguns follows the death of Andrew Morton
More than 50 airguns have been handed in to police across Scotland following the death of the toddler Andrew Morton.

Police chiefs said 55 people had already given up weapons, as Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson launched a campaign urging others to do the same.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland believes there are 500,000 air weapons in Scotland.

Two-year-old Andrew died earlier this month after an incident involving an airgun in Glasgow.

'Tragic events

Acpos firearms licensing spokesman David Mellor and Ms Jamieson launched a leaflet campaign outlining the danger of air rifles and air pistols - which can been sold legally across Scotland.

However, Mr Mellor said Acpos said a licensing scheme - demanded in the wake of Andrew's death - would be "disproportionate".

Acpos favours restricting airgun sales to registered gun shops.

The new leaflet is entitled If You Don't Need It, Get Shot Of It.

Ms Jamieson said: "As recent tragic events have shown airguns are neither harmless nor are they toys.

The leaflet campaign was launched by Cathy Jamieson
The leaflet campaign was launched by Cathy Jamieson

"The leaflet outlines the law as it stands at present on airguns and urges anyone who is concerned about a legal weapon in their possession to hand it in to their local police station."

Recent legislation - which is governed across the UK by the Home Office - made it an offence to possess an airgun in a public place without reasonable excuse such as vermin control near farms.

It also raised the minimum age for airgun ownership from 14 to 17 while outlawing the import of and licensing certain types of gas cartridge airguns.

Ms Jamieson said ministers did not want to rush in "bad legislation" before a Home Office review of gun laws reported.

She said she wanted "nothing ruled in or out at this stage".

In a Holyrood debate on Thursday, the Scottish National Party will press for the Scottish Parliament to gain powers over firearms legislation, in order to tackle what the Nationalists argue are Scotland's "distinctive" firearms problems, such as replica weapons.

A 27-year-old suspect, Mark Bonini, has appeared in court accused of firing an air weapon or similar instrument at Andrew Morton, whereby he died after being struck on the head by a pellet.

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