Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 15:58 UK

Controls plea after toddler shot

Rashid Ullah
Rashid Ullah remains critically ill in hospital

Campaigners have called for legislation to make airgun owners liable for their weapons' misuse after an 18-month-old boy was shot in the garden of his home.

Rashid Ullah remains in a critical condition after being accidentally shot by his five-year-old sister at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, on Sunday.

Their grandfather said the father was using an airgun for target practice and turned his back to answer the phone.

The Gun Control Network (GCN) said such incidents were preventable.

'Terrible consequences'

It could be days before surgeons operate on the toddler, after what police have said appeared to be a "tragic accident".

The boy's grandfather, Bakht Rammand, told the BBC doctors were waiting for swelling to go down before performing surgery.

GCN, which campaigns for tighter controls on guns of all kinds, called for legislation to register airguns, and make their owners liable for the misuse of their weapons.

It said in a statement: "The tragic shooting of the toddler Rashid Rullah highlights once again the terrible consequences of the 'boys' toys' culture surrounding airgun ownership.

"This culture results in easy access, casual regard and non-accountability.

"Because airguns are not treated as 'real' weapons they are not thought worthy of registration or regulation."

Airguns and their owners could be registered, and they should be
Andrew Picken, father of shooting victim

The GCN said airguns were responsible for about half of all firearms offences, and more than a quarter of all serious firearms injuries.

The organisation said that children have picked up air weapons left lying around and the result has been that other children, often siblings or friends, have been killed, blinded or injured.

"The adults who own these guns are rarely held to account," the GCN said.

"There is no law requiring them to store their weapons safely, nor is there any record of ownership."

Rashid was treated by an ambulance crew at the family home in Bennetts Road before being taken to hospital.

'Active kid'

His father, Bakht Zaman, 29, had turned his back on the children at the terraced house to answer his mobile shortly before 1900 BST, Bakht Rammand said.

Mr Rammand said it was a "really bad idea" to keep airguns in the house and said he would have destroyed the weapon if he had known about it.

He added that Rashid was "an active kid", who was close to his sister, and described the pair as being like "a gang".

Mr Rammand said: "He is a an active kid, he's nice. He and his sister, the one who did it, they are both a gang.

Mitchel Picken
Mitchel Picken, 12, was shot in the eye in 2006

"These two, they are always everywhere. You go out of the house, they want to go with you. You go in, they want to go in."

Mr Rammand said the boy's mother, Fazilat Zaman, 25, was at his grandson's bedside at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

The father of 12-year-old Mitchel Picken, who was killed in 2006 as his friends played with an air weapon, also joined the call for stronger controls.

Mitchel died after being shot in the eye in Stockton Brook, Staffordshire. Another boy was later cleared of his manslaughter.

Mitchel's father, Andrew Picken, said: "The government cannot hide behind recent changes in legislation, which failed to take the airgun problem seriously enough and make owners responsible for storing their weapons safely.

"Airguns and their owners could be registered, and they should be."


Toddler is accidentally shot

Toddler shot with airgun critical
26 Aug 08 |  West Midlands

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