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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 06:54 GMT
New gun law welcomed
Imitation gun
The new law makes it illegal to have imitation guns in public places
A new gun law which aims to reduce the flow of lethal weapons into criminals' hands has been welcomed by police.

As part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, which has just become law, airguns which can be adapted to fire live ammunition have been made illegal.

It will also be an offence to have an airgun or imitation weapon in a public place.

The new measures have been well-received by Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police.

Hampshire's assistant chief constable, Simon Cole, said: "Air weapons and imitation firearms can be very difficult to tell apart from real guns and in the wrong hands can be used in anti-social behaviour and crime.

'Misusing weapons'

"We welcome the new laws, which will help to prevent people from misusing these weapons, while still allowing responsible people to use them appropriately."

But the chief constable of Thames Valley Police, Peter Neyroud, said: "I welcome this but I would like to see further legislation making it illegal to buy and sell replica firearms."

The aim of the provision within the Act is to reduce the number of guns available to criminal gangs.

From now on, anyone carrying an imitation firearm or air weapon in public without a reasonable excuse may face a six-month prison sentence or 5,000 fine.

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