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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
New plans to limit airgun sales
Andrew Morton
Andrew Morton, two, died in March after he was shot in the head
The sale of potentially deadly airguns in the UK may be subjected to tough new regulations under Home Office plans.

This follows the killing of Glasgow toddler Andrew Morton with an airgun pellet in March and subsequent lobbying by the Scottish Executive.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke held talks this week with First Minister Jack McConnell on the issue.

The Home Office is now considering limiting all airgun sales to police approved registered firearms dealers.

'Almost accepted'

The Scottish Executive confirmed the proposed restrictions would be UK-wide and apply to places selling airguns rather than on ownership.

A spokeswoman said: "It's fair to say the proposals we have put forward have been almost accepted by the Home Office and there will be an announcement on further restrictions soon."

The move also followed discussions between Scotland's Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson and Home Office ministers who have the power to impose controls on such weapons.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The government is working closely with Scottish ministers to see what further curbs are necessary.

"We would hope that further information would be announced within the next couple of months."

A new law could impose strict curbs on airgun retailers, forcing them to obtain a police licence.

It might also force dealers to record the details of every gun sold and of every purchaser.

Crackdown

Mark Bonini has been jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 13 years in prison for murdering Andrew, who died after being hit on the head by an airgun pellet in Easterhouse on 2 March.

His family's campaign for tighter curbs has won widespread support but the Tories have urged caution and oppose a ban on the weapons.

Airgun
Curbs could force airgun retailers to obtain a police licence

The Scottish Police Federation said it was not feasible to have a total ban on airguns.

Steps have already been taken to tighten the regulations governing their use.

These include the introduction of a new offence of carrying an unloaded airgun in public and raising the age at which airguns can be owned from 14 to 17.

This is due to be raised to 18 in the Violent Crime Reduction Bill currently before Parliament, which also seeks to impose further controls on replica guns.

A further offence of discharging an airgun beyond premises is also contained in these plans.

It is most likely that any new measures restricting airgun sales will be included in this bill.

But any changes would signal a major new approach by the government and bring the first major crackdown on the use of air weapons.




SEE ALSO:
Calls continue for airgun curbs
09 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Airgun case prompts system anger
11 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Pressure mounts for airgun action
10 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Total airgun ban 'not ruled out'
05 Mar 05 |  Scotland


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