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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 07:20 GMT
Campaign to get airguns off streets
Air rifle
Incidents involving air weapons are rising
People across south-east London are being asked to hand in their airguns and rifles as part of a campaign designed to get the weapons off the streets.

The air weapons surrender campaign will draw attention to the dangers of airguns in the run-up to Christmas.

It follows a spate of injuries and damage to property and animals caused by airguns.

Tommy Morris, 16, from Abbey Wood, south-east London, was shot in the back with a powerful air rifle while out on his bike in July 2001.

Airgun offences
Rose from 5,380 in 1990 to 10,227 in 2000
Injured over 800 animals in 2001
Make up more than half all firearms offences
Caused 1,821 injuries and one death in 2000/2001
He still carries the pellet which punctured his lung, destroyed his gall bladder and ended up in his liver.

His mother Jeannie said: "Owning and firing air weapons has become the new fashion on our estate and the more powerful the weapon, the better.

"If it is not stopped, it is going to get out of control and there will be deaths.

"The pellet in Tommy's liver is just a millimetre from an artery. At the hospital we were told if it had hit the artery, he would have bled to death in three minutes."

Operation Trident, which deals with gun crime within London's black communities, recently revealed that more than 10% of weapons it seized were airguns converted into firearms.

Superintendent John Powell of Bexley Police said, with the festive season approaching, "an air weapon is not a good choice of Christmas gift."

Over the next two weeks air guns can be handed in to designated police stations in Greenwich and Lewisham, south-east London, and in Bexley and Bromley, north Kent.


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See also:

13 Nov 02 | Politics
18 Sep 02 | Politics
09 Sep 02 | England
27 Mar 02 | England
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