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
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
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
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
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
(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).