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6/2/2020 2:34:59 PM
Posted: 1/4/2003 9:48:17 PM EDT
[url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/01/05/ngun05.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/01/05/ixnewstop.html]The Telegraph[/url]
By Colin Brown and David Bamber
January 5, 2003

The Prime Minister will announce this week that sophisticated airguns which are being adapted to fire live bullets are to be banned as part of a "crackdown" on crime involving firearms.

Tony Blair's announcement, which follows the death of two teenage girls in a gun battle in Aston, Birmingham, last week, comes as new Home Office figures, obtained by The Telegraph, reveal that gun crime has reached record levels. They show that an average of 22 such crimes are committed every day - up from 13 a day when Labour came to power in 1997.

The statistics, to be released this week, will disclose that in the 12 months to April 2002 there were more than 8,200 incidents involving firearms. In the 12 months to April 1998, there were 4,903.

Many of the crimes are being committed with airguns manufactured to resemble real guns and which can be easily and quickly modified to fire live bullets.

Such guns, which are sold legally in their thousands, have been involved in a spate of murders, hold-ups and muggings. Scotland Yard says that 75 per cent of the guns it seizes on the streets are adapted air weapons, and senior commanders have been pressing the Government for action for some time.

Mr Blair will now follow their advice to outlaw such weapons. The Prime Minister, who returned to Downing Street last night from holiday in Egypt, is understood to be appalled at the rise in gun crime and, in particular, at the Birmingham shootings.

The ban will include realistic replica guns and collectors' guns which can be reactivated to fire live bullets. A senior minister said: "We want to stamp out gun crime. The Prime Minister will announce a ban on airguns that can be rebored to fire bullets."

Tomorrow David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will announce that changes will be made to the Criminal Justice Bill to lay down a minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment for carrying an illegal weapon. He hopes this will stamp out the carrying of pistols as a "fashion accessory", a practice which ministers believe is prevalent among black teenagers.

Tarique Ghaffur, a Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, said: "Guns are increasingly used just to make others 'respect' the gunholder."

Mr Blunkett is to hold a summit at the Home Office next Friday. Police chiefs, immigration officials, customs officers, Crown Prosecution Service lawyers and community leaders have been invited to discuss ways of tackling the problem and of identifying other gaps in the law that may require further legislation.

"We are going to close all the doors we can to gun crime," said a high-ranking Home Office official.

Mr Blunkett yesterday appealed for co-operation with the police from black families and witnesses of the fatal shooting of Charlene Ellis and Latisha Shakespear at a party in Birmingham.

"The thing that worries me about black-on-black crime is that without co-operation of the communities closest to those carrying and using guns, the police have an impossible task," he told The Telegraph. "I join with those who have appealed to the communities to play their part. This is an issue for us all, not just law enforcement agencies."

Witnesses afraid of intimidation by gangs would, if necessary, be protected with new identities, he said.

Mr Blunkett denied that the new laws were a "knee-jerk" reaction to public outrage at recent killings and shootings.
Link Posted: 1/5/2003 5:31:40 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/5/2003 5:44:27 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/5/2003 6:03:49 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Skibane:
Many of the crimes are being committed with airguns manufactured to resemble real guns and which can be easily and quickly modified to fire live bullets.
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Link Posted: 1/5/2003 7:49:39 AM EDT
I'd love to see one of these conversions and what parts were necessary to convert. Every replica I've seen has been different enough to make that totally impractical.

On the other hand, the crazier their laws get, the better the example we have when we say gun control doesn't work even if you do it across the entire country.
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