Warning over BB guns
POLICE in Suffolk have launched a hard-hitting campaign warning youngsters of the risks of carrying a BB gun, saying it “could get you killed”.One in five firearms incidents in Suffolk involves a BB or replica gun, Suffolk Constabulary revealed yesterday.
By Danielle Nuttall
POLICE in Suffolk have launched a hard-hitting campaign warning youngsters of the risks of carrying a BB gun, saying it “could get you killed”.
One in five firearms incidents in Suffolk involves a BB or replica gun, Suffolk Constabulary revealed yesterday.
Many of the incidents result in armed officers being dispatched to the scene who have to make a “split second” decision about whether to take “lethal action” against someone who poses a threat.
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Officers are now holding a month-long service to collect and safely dispose of BB in which trained firearms officers will destroy replica weapons handed over by the public.
Operational Support group inspector Alex Morrison said: “Our armed response officers are highly trained but even they can find it impossible to tell the difference between a BB gun and a real gun, especially when they first arrive at a scene and see the gun from a long distance away.
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“Firearms officers have to make a split-second decision about whether a situation poses a threat. With many people owning realistic looking BB guns, particularly teenagers, we are worried that an armed officer could be forced to take lethal action against someone who appears to pose a significant threat.”
Police said BB guns used in a public place can seriously frighten onlookers, who cannot tell whether the weapon is a replica.
The force received 216 calls from concerned members of the public in 2006 relating to BB guns and between July and September that year, there were 64 firearms incidents.
About 20% of these incidents related to people in possession of a BB gun or replica and as a result of some of the calls, the armed response vehicle was deployed.
Police have created posters to drive home the message which will be distributed across the county.
BB guns can be defined as an imitation firearm and it is an offence to carry one in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.
Those who flout the law risk being arrested and prosecuted, with the penalty being six months in prison and/or a fine.
Insp Morrison added: “Our basic advice is don't carry BB guns in public at all - only use them responsibly in private places.
“Make sure you are out of sight of onlookers who could mistake the gun for a real weapon and ensure that any BBs or pellets you fire remain inside your property.”
People with unwanted BB guns or replicas should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500.
Details will be taken and collection will be arranged when an officer is available.
Guns could be subject to forensics and intelligence checks before being destroyed.