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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Imitation guns 'must be banned'
Imitation guns
Replica guns pose a risk to public safety
A leading pressure group has criticised the Government's decision to shelve plans for a ban of imitation guns.

Peter Squires, from The Gun Control Network, said legislation had to be considered.

Mr Squires, who is also a lecturer in Criminology and specialist in firearms at the University of Brighton, insisted a legal framework could be found.


If something is not done, there is a massive cost because it is an important public safety issue

Peter Squires Gun Control Network

The Government believes an outright ban of imitation guns would be overly complex.

It cannot see a way of accurately defining what an imitation is, compared with a toy.

However, Mr Squires said: "Replicas are responsible for a record rise in firearms in the national crime statistics.

"If something is not done, there is a massive cost because it is an important public safety issue.

"I have never been convinced about the argument that it is too complex an issue to achieve an outright ban, or even a restriction on the sale of imitations."

Peter Squires
Peter Squires: New legislation is needed

The Gun Control Network was set up following Dunblane. It fought for the banning of handguns, and supports the prohibition of imitation weapons.

Mr Squire said one idea, instead of a ban, would be to give police the power to arrest anyone with a weapon causing "fear or distress" to the public.

It would then be up to individual cases to determine if this criteria had been met.

A report earlier this year by the national criminal intelligence service (NCIS) indicated replicas - such as air pistols, props used in films, toys and cigarette lighters - were used in 823 offences in England and Wales in 2000.

Police forces have also recorded huge increases in the numbers of fake weapons seized.

See also:

02 Oct 02 | UK
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