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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2005, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
New restrictions on airgun sales
Only registered dealers will be able to sell the weapons
Plans to restrict the sale of airguns to registered dealers have been announced by the Home Office.

A new registration scheme has been proposed, under which dealers would be required to pay a 150 fee.

The measures have been inserted into the Violent Crime Reduction Bill at Westminster, but critics in Scotland said they did not go far enough.

A campaign for a tightening of the law followed the death of Glasgow toddler Andrew Morton in March.

Mark Bonini was jailed for life in August for murdering two-year-old Andrew in Easterhouse. The toddler died after being hit on the head by a pellet fired by the 27-year-old.

The scheme would help ensure that our laws on air weapons remain among the toughest in the world
Hazel Blears
Home Office Minister

Under the proposals, dealers will have to prove to police that they are fit to be a registered firearms dealer.

Internet or mail order sales will also be outlawed as all purchases will have to be "face-to-face" over the counter.

Those convicted of trading in firearms without being registered would face up to five years in jail and an unlimited fine.

Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said the proposals would make suppliers accountable to police and remove the anonymity of purchasers.

"Coupled with the existing measures in the bill, the scheme would help ensure that our laws on air weapons remain among the toughest in the world," she said.

Andrew Morton
Andrew Morton, two, died in March after he was shot in the head

The measures were welcomed by Scottish police, who said they would make a "major contribution" towards tackling the problem.

Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said the proposals would bring an end to the sale of airguns at car boot sales, in corner shops and any outlet which has not had police approval.

Ms Jamieson said it was a fitting response following Andrew's death.

"This Home Office proposal, subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny, offers the prospect of significant changes being delivered quickly and consistently across the UK," she said.

"Changes which will help us improve public protection by limiting those who have access to the sale, purchase and use of airguns."

We also need to impose strict conditions on who can acquire airguns and where they can be used
Nicola Sturgeon
SNP deputy leader

However, the Scottish National Party's deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said: "Rather than this timid plan, we need real action to combat the dangers of airgun misuse.

"It is not enough to simply restrict the sale of airguns - we also need to impose strict conditions on who can acquire airguns and where they can be used."

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said the proposals looked like a "knee-jerk reaction" to Andrew Morton's death.

Spokesman Simon Clarke said the organisation would be opposing the moves.

"I can understand the emotion that has been aroused but this seems to be overreacting in a way that is not going to provide any practical solutions," he said.

Hear arguments for and against licensing

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