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Leslie Anderson reports
"The weapons are not covered by the Firearms Act"
 real 28k

Friday, 7 July, 2000, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Replica gun control call
Replica gun
The guns look very like the real thing
Police and politicians have demanded stricter controls on the sale of pellet-firing replica guns to keep them out of the hands of children.

The warning came after a 12-year-old boy nearly lost an eye and an elderly woman was shot in two separate incidents in Edinburgh.

The spring-loaded weapons can be bought for around 35 and, since they are not covered by the Firearms Act, there are few restrictions on their sale.

Pentlands MSP and Deputy Community Care Minister, Iain Gray, has called for tougher restrictions on the supply and use of the weapons.

Lothian and Borders Police car
Police investigating two incidents
He said: "We have done some research and it appears to be the case that they're supposed to be sold to over 18s.

"It's clear there are many children who may have managed to get a hold of them.

"They're supposed to be used in proper firing ranges but youngsters are using them in playing fields.

"I'm going to continue to raise the matter with the authorities. In the meantime the important thing is to get the message out to parents that these are extremely dangerous weapons."

The danger of the weapons was seen in a recent attack on a 12-year-old boy in the Buckstone area of Edinburgh.

Pentlands MSP Iain Gray
Iain Gray: "Tougher controls"
The boy nearly lost his sight when he was shot in the face.

In a separate incident in the Gilmerton area of the city, an elderly woman said she was hit in the back by a pellet.

Detective Inspector Kevin Greig, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "It is obvious that there are a number of these toy guns out there and probably in the hands of and being used by children.

"It is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.

"We would urge any children and parents who may have these guns not to use them in a way that could harm anyone else. Anyone using these guns should be supervised."

Age restriction

Stores are required to ask for identification from anyone who wants to buy such a gun and customers have to sign a form that lays out guidelines for their safe use.

They are not supposed to be sold to anyone under the age of 18, but the stores cannot prevent parents from giving the guns to their children.

One Glasgow shopkeeper said: "We never sell them to anyone less than 14.

"However, if someone comes in and buys one for someone who is 13, there is very little I can do about that.

"That's up to the parents to enforce."

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09 Jun 00 | Scotland
Galbraith in child crime shake-up
01 May 00 | Scotland
Pupil suspended after gun incident
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