Imitation Guns including BB Guns
Since April 2004 it has been illegal to carry
an imitation gun in public and police have been making the consequences
Even trained police officers have great difficulty
distinguishing these guns from actual firearms and have to act as if they
are real. There is a real risk of an offender being shot by armed
response officers who are
unable to establish the exact nature of the weapon. The fear felt by
members of the public on being confronted with an imitation gun can be
just as great. Valuable time and resources are being used up when
armed response teams have to be sent to incidents involving fake guns.
Forces around the country have been issuing warnings
about the dangers of carrying imitation guns in public and asked parents
not to give children guns as presents at Christmas. Some did this through press releases and articles in local newspapers, some
have taken their message a step further and initiated poster campaigns
and written to parents and carers. Derbyshire Police were among
the first to do so in 2003, followed by Bedfordshire Police in 2004. Gun Control
Network fully supports these high profile campaigns.
Avon and Somerset Police
As part of their continuing campaign to warn about the dangers of guns
and imitation weapons
Avon and Somerset Constabulary firearms officers have been visiting
young people in Bridgwater. Of all the incidents requiring armed
police attendance in the area, 90% are found to involve imitation guns
or air weapons, and each time an armed response unit is called it
costs approximately £2,000.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary Website
Hampshire Police - FAKE Campaign
The following is taken from the
Hampshire Constabulary website
where links to the Resource Pack and the Fake Team can be found
"The FAKE (Firearms and Knife crime
Education programme) has been running across Hampshire and the
Isle of Wight since July 2007.
As part of the campaign, we are
actively engaging with the community to reduce both gun and knife
incidents and stop them from happening in the first place.
Since the campaign began the FAKE
presentation has been delivered to over 50,000 young people,
principally within secondary schools and other youth groups. This
number increases weekly.
Almost 70% of all incidents
that Hampshire Constabulary's firearms officers attend involve
knives and imitation firearms. One hour of policing a firearms
incident costs the equivalent of 27 hours of local beat policing.
Some of the guns that we seize from
young people are so realistic that a firearms officer would not
immediately be able to decide if they were real. Firearms officers
have to treat every gun incident as if the weapon is a real one.
Our concern is that a young person will find themselves confronted
by armed police.
Currently, Hampshire Constabulary is
working with Play Radio to reduce knife crime in Southampton."
Avon and Somerset Police
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has launched a gun awareness campaign
to highlight the dangers of possessing imitation firearms. Of
all incidents requiring armed police attendance in Avon and Somerset
90% were found to involve imitation guns or air weapons. The
campaign follows on from the work with Fairfield High School reported
in March (see below) and the stark message used then will be repeated:
'If you can't tell the difference how can we?' (Avon and Somerset
Police, 3 June 2008). More than 50 imitation have been
handed in during the amnesty (BBC, 18 July 2008).
weapons amnesty had been launched in which any type of device from
knives to firearms can be handed in. The scheme is part of the
police's Safer Spring initiative and will run until 20 April.
During the campaign Kent police will work closely with Kent and Medway
trading standards and will visit retailers to educate them on selling
knives and ball bearing guns (YourCanterbury.com, 25 March
Avon and Somerset Police
Officers from the firearms unit have been working alongside pupils at
Fairfield High School in Bristol to produce a powerful short film
highlighting the dangers involved in possessing imitation firearms.
It uses the strap line "If you can't tell the difference, how can we"
(Avon and Somerset Constabulary, 11 March 2008). The film
will be made available to secondary schools across Bristol.
Police will hold a month long firearms amnesty and have asked people
to hand over fake and replica guns (BBC, 2 March 2008)
Greater Manchester Police
Police are urging imitation gun and airgun owners to hand them in at a
police station during March. Greater Manchester Police and
Trading Standards will also be targeting dealers illegally selling
realistic imitation firearms and air weapons (Rochdale Online,
28 February 2008).
No Butts - Hand Them In
- February 2008
Mobile police stations are to tour rural areas across Staffordshire to
enable people to hand in air weapons, BB guns and imitation guns (This
is Cheshire, 18 February 2008). This will be part of a Campaign
to raise awareness of the dangers of air weapons and reduce
anti-social behaviour. The promise of an amnesty in the County
was first promised following the death of 12-year-old Mitchel Picken
who was killed with an air rifle in July 2006 (see
Suffolk Constabulary have begun a month-long amnesty on BB guns and
have issued a stern warning to make people aware of the similarities
in appearance to a real gun and the panic that can be caused (Evening
Star, 10 August 2007). In 2006 police received 216 calls
from concerned members of the public, many of which resulted in armed
officers being dispatched to investigate.
Thames Valley Police
new film, Worlds Collide, produced by Thames Valley Police
audio and visual services unit, has been premiered at a school in Oxfordshire. The film was
developed by students after an anti-gun talk at St Birinus School in
Didcot and warns children about the risks of owning replica guns.
The film and a support pack will be sent to every school in the
Hard-hitting adverts are being shown on bus shelters, in schools and
youth clubs in Surrey to warn people that having replica guns in
public places could get them killed (BBC, 24 April 2007).
Three of the region's police forces have set up a website displaying a
selection of images, which show both real and imitation guns, and
inviting visitors to choose which is which. They want to spell
out the risk created by replica guns. Click here for the
Guns and Knives Take Lives website. See Yorkshire
Post (30 March 2007).
Keeping Ball-Bearing Guns Off Our Streets
- July 2006
Assistant Chief Constable of Derbyshire has written to Parents and Guardians
in the county asking for their help in the campaign to reduce the misuse of
ball-bearing, imitation and airguns. The text of the letter is given
Keeping Ball-Bearing Guns Off Our
writing to ask for your help in our campaign to reduce the misuse of
ball-bearing, imitation and air guns. Sadly the figures say it all. These guns
account for some 80 per cent of all firearm incidents dealt with by
Ball-bearing and imitation guns look like real firearms, and this
means that if your child is seen
carrying one in public they could find themselves facing
an armed police officer. As an organisation we have to respond to
many incidents where firearms have been or are being used. We rely on skilled officers making a professional judgement, but I am
really concerned because of the frighteningly realistic nature
of some of these guns. At the point of potential conflict, only your child will know if
their gun is real or not. This puts themselves,
the public and police officers at unnecessary risk.
You may or may not know, that these guns can still be
purchased legally although it is an offence
carry one in public. Those people who do carry such a weapon in public
run the real risk of
being arrested and prosecuted.
Help us to help you keep your child safe by calling
Derbyshire police on 0845 123 3333 to arrange for your ball-bearing,
imitation and air guns to be collected.
Assistant Chief Constable
"Fake Gun Users Risk Being
- April 2004
PC Darren Corbett, a beat bobby in
Nottinghamshire, is delivering a Gun and Knife Crime Roadshow to
schools. Officers use locally recovered weapons with a
'history' to promote discussion and provide information and advice
regarding the law and safety issues with knives, bb guns,
imitation guns and air weapons.
Metropolitan Police, September 2007
Teenagers from London's black
community are being targeted by an advertisement from the
Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident. "Don't Blow Your Life
Away" will run for four weeks and will be aired on radio and TV
channels. A replica prison cells will be on tour in five
boroughs (Southwark, Lambeth, Brent, Hackney and Haringey) where gun
crime is prevalent (BBC, 17 September 2007).
Metropolitan Police, April 2007
An Operation Trident anti-gun crime
advertising campaign was run throughout the school Easter Holidays.
"Blood on Your Hands" specifically targeted young people and
encouraged them to come forward with information about gun crime to
the police or Crimestoppers (Guardian, 6 April 2007).
Huddersfield, July 2006
A specialist police squad has been set
up in Huddersfield to tackle gun and drug crime. The problem
has surfaced with a spate of shooting incidents in the Kirklees area
(Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 14 July 2006).
Police, March 2006
A crackdown on gun and knife crime and
alcohol-fuelled violence has been launched by the Metropolitan
Police (BBC, 21 March 2006).