Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex II


  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 air rifle.

  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 air rifle.

  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 shooting.

  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 was arrested.

  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 house.

  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 months.

  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".

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 13 April 2000