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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
MP calling for BB gun sales ban
Ball bearing gun
Armed officers may arrest youngsters caught with BB guns
A North Yorkshire MP has called on the government to ban the sale of BB guns.

Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP for the Vale of York, said there should be a wide-ranging consultation on the dangers of the replica firearms.

North Yorkshire Police say they are concerned armed officers can often mistake them for the real thing.

The Home Office said the results of a review of the controls on firearms and imitations, including BB guns, was due to be published later this year.

BB guns do not meet the definition of a firearm under the Firearms Act 1968 because the pellets fired are said to be incapable of inflicting a penetrating injury and sellers do not need a licence.

But armed police are often called to reports of youths playing with the guns because they look genuine.

These guns are extremely realistic in appearance, and can be used in a menacing and threatening manner
Anne McIntosh, Vale of York MP

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Bagshaw, of North Yorkshire Police, said last month he was concerned about the potential for tragedy in such incidents.

Echoing his fears, Miss McIntosh said: "It is now time to take serious action to prevent the sale of these guns which, despite often being bought as toys, can easily be mistaken for genuine weapons.

"These guns are extremely realistic in appearance, and can be used in a menacing and threatening manner.

"Before long a police armed response unit will shoot to kill a youth holding what looks like a lethal weapon," she added.

Statement expected

A Home Office spokesperson said although the guns are not classed as firearms their use was still controlled by law.

"They are regarded as imitation firearms and it is an offence punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment to threaten other people with an imitation firearm so as to cause fear of unlawful violence.

"In addition, the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced a new offence of having an imitation firearm in a public place without reasonable excuse."

The "Controls on firearms" consultation closed at the end of August 2004.

A Home Office statement will follow the publication of the review, the spokesperson confirmed.

Police issue replica gun warning
29 Apr 05 |  North Yorkshire

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