Air gun laws under review two years after death of Suffolk teenager Ben Wragge
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:26 03 January 2018
Gun laws in England and Wales are now being reviewed by the Government two years after a Suffolk schoolboy was shot and killed with an air rifle.
Popular teenager Ben Wragge, 13, died in hospital after he was accidentally shot in the neck while at a friend’s house in 2016.
The teenager’s family raised concerns over how air weapons are controlled at his inquest, and their fears prompted senior Suffolk coroner Peter Dean to write to the Government urging them to take action.
Now Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, has launched a firearms review and is currently collecting views and evidence from other families, the public and police forces across England and Wales.
Richard Kennett, firearms licensing manager at Suffolk and Norfolk police, said the review is urgently needed as recent figures reveal a spike in incidents involving the weapons.
During Operation Aztec, a firearms surrender conducted last year, 66 air guns were handed in across Suffolk.
Mr Kennett said: “It is really important that we remember air guns are lethal.
“I think with air weapons sometimes people think because some of them aren’t licensed, they aren’t dangerous but that’s simply not the case.
“You can see, particularly in poor Ben’s case, that using them can end in tragedy.
“At the end of the day it is a gun, a firearm, and most incidents involving them have armed officers sent to them as a matter of urgency.
“I think what this review is doing is asking whether children get hold of air weapons too easily, whether the security of air weapons is good enough when children are present and so on. It is urgently needed.”
During the review, which runs until February 6, feedback is being gathered about existing air gun controls and whether they are effective enough to prevent children getting hold of them.
Information collected will also help chiefs to consider if trigger locks or locked cabinets are needed to store them more safely.
It will gather evidence from Scotland and Northern Ireland, where recent laws have been brought in to license air weapons, and consider if manufacturers need to prevent guns and rifles from accidentally firing.
Submit evidence to the Home Office via email.