Bald statistics can hide the real effects of
the misuse of airguns. To highlight the extent of the damage that
airguns can cause to people, animals and property we have prepared
a list of incidents derived from two sources, reports from one
national newspaper during the last four years and information
given by MPs during recent debates and committee sessions. These
represent only a fraction of the total number of incidents. According
to the most recent Home Office statistics (for 1997) there were
a total of 7,506 offences committed with air weapons in England
and Wales (out of a total of 12,410 firearm offences). In 96 per
cent of cases the weapon was fired. However, there is a strong
likelihood of under-reporting as incidents are notifiable offences
only if the police become involved.
Examples from The Daily Telegraph
11 August 1995. Girl shot dead playing cowboys
and Indians. Margaret McEwan, aged eight, killed by her 10 year-old
cousin with a .22 BA Sportsman air rifle.
11 April 1996. Man fired at flat of noisy neighbour.
Air rifle fired at neighbour's flat, cracking windows.
17 September 1996. Gardener who shot thrushes
forfeits gun. Pensioner shot wild birds, mistle thrushes, with
8 November 1996. Jail for pensioner who shot
bathers. A man shot at three swimmers, one of whom nearly died
when he was hit in the chest. An air rifle was used.
18 December 1996. Sex attacker snatched girl
at gunpoint. A teenage girl was snatched from the street when
an airgun, which she thought to be an automatic pistol, was pointed
at her by an 18 year-old student.
17 January 1997. Man jailed for shooting boy
aged two. Malcolm Edwards shot a two year-old boy in the head,
shoulder and left leg after using him as target practice for his
11 March 1997. Gang targets girl, 13, who aided
police. Kimberley Blackband was threatened after reporting an
air rifle attack on her school. Two boys were cautioned after
admitting the incident.
12 April 1997. Jail for airgun sniper who shot
pedestrian. Simon Tuohey used a replica of a military-issue self-loading
rifle, equipped with a telescopic site, to fire at passers-by.
One was hit on the arm another in the buttocks.
12 August 1997. Boy, two, loses eye in airgun
Jamie North was blinded in one eye after being
shot at close range with an air rifle. A 13 year-old boy and 18
year-old man were involved.
7 August 1998. Airgun boy cleared of intent
over shot girl. A 16 year-old teenager shot a 12 year-old girl,
Jasmine Proverbs, in the head while showing off a new £195
rifle fitted with telescopic sights and silencer. A bit of the
pellet is still lodged in her brain. He had also shot Jasmine's
brother in the leg the previous day.
11 November 1998. Air rifle attack on pupils.
Four children and a dinner lady were hit by pellets fired from
an air rifle at a playground of a Primary School. A 16 year-old
6 January 1999. Teenager shot in "war game".
Richard Bryant, 13, was critically injured when a pellet fired
from an airgun lodged in his skull. Four boys aged 11 to 14 were
involved. A 14 year-old was arrested.
7 May 1999. Mother gives evidence against son.
Craig Smith, who was convicted of murdering 13 year-old Claire
Hart, shot his victim in the side of the head with an air rifle
before strangling her.
31 July 1999. Father's anguish over donation
of shot son's organs. George Atkinson, 13, was fatally wounded
after being hit by an airgun pellet in the garden of his aunt's
Examples given by MPs
Mr John Whittingdale (Colchester, South and
Maldon). Home Affairs. 28 October 1996.
A pupil at the Philip Morant School in Colchester
was shot in the eye with an airgun while riding his bike. The
victim lost the sight of one eye.
Mr Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne North).
Standing Committee E. 21 November 1996.
A group of young school friends was attacked
by a gang armed with air rifles near Stockton in April 1996. Adam
Martin, 16, was shot in the face and foot.
A 65 year-old Aberdeenshire man died instantly
after a pellet fired by a 17 year-old taking pot-shots with his
new airgun hit him after he stepped into the line of fire.
Mr Gordon Prentice (Pendle). Standing Committee
E. 21 November 1996.
A schoolboy needed hospital surgery after being
shot by an airgun sniper as he was riding his bike.
Residents on Leigh's biggest housing estate
have had enough of teenage troublemakers who use waste bins for
airgun practice even though young children are playing there.
A long-haired black cat reported in the St
Helens Star to have been shot by airgun pellets twice in four
A hand-tame goose was slaughtered by airgun-carrying
hooligans and a mute swan used for target practice.
Dr Nick Palmer (Broxtowe). 21 January 1998.
Reported that the Cat Protection League has
estimated that every year 10,000 cats are killed or maimed.
Mr Jeff Ennis (Barnsley, East and Mexborough).
Air Guns (Safety). 23 June 1999.
Adam Yoxall, aged 10, was hit in the eye by
an airgun pellet while playing in a local wood. He lost the sight
in his left eye.
A 12 year-old boy was left in agony after being
shot in the back by a sniper.
GCN supports Mr Ennis's view expressed in the
Air Guns (Safety) debate that "even one recorded airgun incident
a year is one too many, and we should not be complacent".