"The Gun Control Network plays an absolutely essential and professional research and lobbying role in informing the debate about gun control in the UK. The subject needs proper consideration and debate and the GCN makes that possible."

Rt Hon. Charles Clarke

Former Home Secretary and MP

"The Gun Control Network played an important part in persuading the government to tighten the law on handguns and air weapons."

Chris Mullin, Chairman, Home Affairs Select Committee

1997-1999 and 2001-3


"The GCN is an invaluable source of information about firearms, which I have found extremely helpful.  It is a vital antidote to the propaganda machine of the UK's powerful pro-gun lobby."

Chris Williamson, MP

Imitation Gun Complacency

Here is a worryingly complacent comment from the owner of an outlet who sells 10-15 imitation weapons a month, reported by ic Surrey (28 September 2006), quoted after gun incidents in the area.

"They're basically seen as toys.  Children come in with their parents.  Even though there's a lot of bad press, parents around here [Reigate] don't seem to mind."

A more responsible gunshop employee in Reigate was reported as saying that his shop does not sell imitation weapons because they were sometimes used in robberies and were dangerous if they hit people in the eye.

Comments on the Firearms Register from March 2006

"We want it, there's certainly no resistance from the police service to have it and clearly what we do need is a register of all the people with a licence and we certainly need a register of those people who have applied for a licence and had it refused ..." (Press Association, 5 March 2006).

Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe, Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, speaking on the Jonathan Dimbleby programme

Progress towards a national gun register has "not been as quick as it could be" (BBC, 12 March 2006)

Sir Chris Fox, ACPO President, speaking on Sky News' Sunday Live

"We're now into year nine since Parliament decided that we should have a national firearms database and it's time that all the excuses and explanations stopped.  Let's have this up and delivered as Parliament intended" (BBC, 3 March 2006).

Lord Corbett, former Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee

"When I was shadow minister for police for three years, they said the register would be ready.  There has been a pathetic series of excuses" (Cambridge Evening News, 10 March 2006).

Jim Paice MP

"The fact that the register has not happened means it has not been treated as a priority by the Home Office despite all that was said" (Cambridge Evening News, 10 March 2006).

Andrew Lansley MP

"There have been a whole series of technical problems which have been difficult and which have not yet been resolved ...  But good progress is now being made.  That said, criticism of failure to get there is justified" (Eastern Daily Press, 13 March 2006).

Charles Clarke MP, Home Secretary

"There have been issues about trying to get it in the programme of various IT developments.  We do now have a system which is going to be trialled in May this year and if that's successful then I expect it to be national within nine months"  There was "absolutely no lack of will" (politics.co.uk, 13 March 2006).

Hazel Blears MP, Home Office minister, speaking on Radio 4's Today programme


The Police View on Imitation Guns

Speaking at the Annual Chief Police Officers meeting in Birmingham Greater Manchester's Deputy Chief Constable Alan Green said that forces across Britain could not ignore the risk of young people carrying realistic-looking firearms.

"I feel the service is going to be in the dock for having shot some young person.  The average age of people carrying ball-bearing guns in Greater Manchester is just 13 years.  The threat from imitation firearms isn't that of slight injuries to young people, it is that you are likely to shoot someone at the age of 13 in the not too distant future." (Telegraph, 20 May 2005)

A Conservative MP calls for BB gun sales ban

Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP for the Vale of York, said that:

"It is now time to take serious action to prevent the sale of these guns which, despite often being bought as toys, can easily be mistaken for genuine weapons." (BBC, 12 May 2005)


Comments reported after the shooting of Andrew Morton, the Glasgow toddler who was killed after being hit in the head with an airgun pellet

".. equally it would be wrong to rule out a total ban.  New laws on airguns are already in place, but if more are needed, we must not hold back and the people of Scotland know that Labour will not hold back.  No one should rule out licensing or a total ban until we have looked properly at where the law might be letting people down."

Jack McConnell MSP, Scottish First Minister (at the Scottish Labour Party Conference, 5 March 2005)

"As a community do we find it acceptable to fire air guns, or even acceptable to own an air gun?"

Father Thomas Magill, parish priest at St Dominic's Catholic Church where a special Mass for Andrew was held

"We need to learn lessons from this."

Tony Blair, Prime Minister

"A gun is designed for one thing and one thing only and that is either to cause damage or to kill....The force that the pellet comes out of an airgun is incredible.  Some of these airguns are incredibly powerful"

Norrie Flowers, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation reported to be calling for a total ban on airguns

"The shooting clearly wasn't done at close range, so we can see the ability to kill with these weapons from a distance.  It may be that a firearms certificate is required to buy one of these things.  These certificates cover "lethal, barrelled weapons' and if ever there was such a thing an airgun is that"

Chief Superintendent Tom Buchan, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents

"Airguns are offensive weapons and most certainly not toys.  They should be subject to the same laws as all firearms"

Bill Aitken, Conservative MSP

"Air weapons have to be licensed - they are clearly capable of causing death, never mind serious injury"

Kenny MacAskill MSP, Scottish National Party Justice Spokesman

"Airguns should be treated in the same way as shotguns and other weapons - they should be banned if they are not properly licensed"

Sandra White, Scottish National Party MSP

"Access to weapons such as air rifles is unacceptably easy.  They should be firmly regulated and controlled"

Frank McAveety, Labour MSP

"Airguns are potentially dangerous weapons, particularly to children........  If someone is going to misuse an airgun, they are potentially dangerous to anybody and for that reason I think owning one should require a licence"

Alan Birkbeck, a senior engineer with the ballistics and impact group at Glasgow University writing in The Scotsman.

"This incident is an absolute tragedy but I see no reason for tighter controls on airguns in Scotland"

Martin Morris, gun shop owner

"We can understand the grief of the family, but banning the weapons is not the answer.  A licensing system has been debated for decades and constantly rejected"

Patrick Johnson, British Shooting Sports Council

but Patrick Johnson is not correct.  Here, for example, are three Recommendations from the Commons Home Affairs Committee Report published in 2000.  They are not an unequivocal rejection of licensing for air weapons.  Their points about lethality were well made.

    (s)  We recommend that the Government establish unambiguous criteria for judging the lethality of a firearm, and undertake the necessary research to provide an authoritative assessment of the power level at which a firearm is considered lethal (paragraph 128).

    (z)  We do not accept that any lethal weapons should fall outwith firearms licensing, even if—for reasons of practicality—the regime may have to be transitory for the short to medium term. If a system of firearms control is to be consistent and simple to administer, while recognising the lethality of all firearms, it will need to be extended to lower-powered air weapons which are lethal. Licensing will require the air weapon owner to demonstrate fitness to possess firearms and a good reason for wishing to do so: it will also require owners to provide appropriate safe storage for their weapons (paragraph 155).

    (aa)  We recommend that the threshold at which air weapons must be licensed is set at that power level at which the potential to kill is proven by the best scientific evidence. Below that level of lethality, licensing would impose too onerous a burden for too little benefit; above it, however, licensing is necessary—for the safety of the public, and for the integrity and consistency of the licensing regime itself (paragraph 156).


A man is on trial for manslaughter after he shot and killed a friend with an air rifle in his flat in Castleford (Yorkshire Post, 8 March 2005).  Giving evidence one witness, a friend of both men, said:

"We would go hunting with air rifles and dogs. I have seen lots of people aim a gun at somebody and pull the trigger. It is messing about because you know it is not loaded."



A 16-year-old had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice after a 13-year-old boy died after being shot in the head in a quarry (PA News 15 December 2004).

Speaking outside the court, Detective Inspector Dai Malyn said: “It’s been a very tragic investigation.  William died from a shotgun injury to the back of his head.....


"These are the tragic consequences when people below the age they ought to keep guns go out shooting.


Hughmark International, a market operator, is banning the sale of BB guns at all of its markets (Epping Forest Guardian 20 December 2004).

Their financial director Lew Hughes said: “I'm going to meet the police and determine whether imitation firearms are being sold. If they are being sold they will be taken off sale immediately and from January 1 we will be banning BB guns from sale from every market that we run."


Launching a month-long weapons amnesty Grahame Maxwell, Deputy Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police highlighted the dangers of imitation guns (Doncaster Today, 3 February 2005).

"It is dangerous to carry weapons in public.  It is often impossible for police to tell, even if at close range, if a gun is real or fake.  There is huge potential for a prank involving BB guns or fake firearms to end in tragedy"



Cats and Airguns


Liberal Gun Laws


Gun Crime Figures

January 2010

January 2009




Airgun Crime


Airgun Ownership and Children





Gun Lobby Abuse

Guns & Advertising


Kate Hoey on Gun Crime (May 07)

Ball-bearing & Non-Powder Guns (June 05)

Lethal Airguns (Mar 05)

Stolen Guns (Nov 04)

Gun Crime & Gun Comment (Nov 04)