LETTER FROM MR ALLAN R EVANS TO JANE DAVIDSON
Thank you for your letter dated 14 October regarding
Having served in HM Forces Welsh Guards, attained
the Rank of Captain in the Army Cadet Force and completed 21 years
service with the Ambulance Service, I have first hand experience
of how lethal air weapons can be, especially in the hands of juveniles.
Since my retirement two years ago as a Divisional
Officer in the Ambulance Service, I have devoted most, if not
all of my spare time, to rescuing abandoned, injured, sick and
ill-treated animals in our county borough.
In March of this year, one of my rescued cats
appeared to be unwell and had difficulty breathing. I rushed her
to my veterinary surgeon who after taking x-rays confirmed that
she had been shot in the throat with a .22 airgun pellet.
Despite horrific injuries, she survived only
to be shot again two weeks later, this time fatally in the back
of her head at very close range.
A 13 year old boy living directly behind us
was interviewed by the police after neighbours reported seeing
him firing an air rifle from an upstairs window. The air rifle
was later confiscated, but no charges for being under age and
in possession of the weapon were brought against him or his parents.
Following the death of my cat I set about getting
as many signatures as possible to ban the use of these weapons.
The response was overwhelming, but at the same time alarming.
Many veterinary surgeons that I approached told me that they see
hundreds of pets brought into their clinics each year as a result
of airgun misuse.
Most of these occur during the school holidays.
Airgun injuries involving pets are not always
easy to detect. Unless an animal is given an x-ray, these injuries
can go undetected for months, even years. Without x-raying every
family pet, we are unlikely to get an accurate picture of the
scale of this problem.
Airgun misuse is not only confined to animals
Within a few days of starting my petition, a
local schoolgirl was shot in the face. Since then, there is not
a week that goes by without some report or another of a person
being injured by these weapons.
As recent as last Friday, the South Wales Police
issued an urgent warning to parents in the Bridgend area. Having
received a 999 call, they despatched an armed response unit to
an incident, only to find that the culprits were children with
Senior police officers are now expressing their
open concern that it will only be a matter of time before someone
is killed by these weapons, or mistakenly shot by a police marksman.
Many of these weapons the children are using
are fitted with silencers and are high powered. It is very difficult
to distinguish them from real firearms.
History, unfortunately, has a habit of repeating
itself. We have already witnessed several incidents in America
this year where young persons have shot and killed schoolchildren.
I, together with the signatures in my petition are deeply concerned
that we do not have a repeat of Hungerford or Dunblane in our
We wish to thank you for raising this very important
issue in The National Assembly for Wales with the First Secretary
and would be most grateful if you would now forward this letter,
together with our petition to the Home Affairs Select Committee.
I enclose some additional press cuttings regarding
airgun abuse for your attention.
I believe that the existing laws governing the use of these weapons
are inadequate and are difficult to enforce. The only way forward
for our society is to ban them completely.
16 October 1999
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