Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

With Just [Pounds Sterling]100, It's Easy to Buy a Replica Gun; LETHAL-LOOKING WEAPONS FACE BAN

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

With Just [Pounds Sterling]100, It's Easy to Buy a Replica Gun; LETHAL-LOOKING WEAPONS FACE BAN

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISTAIR FOSTER;BEN LEAPMAN

THE Evening Standard today demonstrates how easy it is to buy a gun on the streets of London. With only [pounds sterling]100, two reporters walked into a high-street shop and bought a Walther airgun.

Airguns can only be purchased by people over 17 and there is a legal restriction on their power. However, some legal models can be converted into deadly weapons and used by criminals to terrorise their victims.

The Government plans to outlaw the manufacture, import and sale of "realistic" replica and imitation guns. The Violent Crime Reduction Bill, published this week, says the ban applies to those weapons that "any reasonable person could mistake for a firearm".

Ministers are particularly worried about ball-bearing guns which also fire plastic pellets. Chief constables have warned that a growing number of children are carrying these guns as a status symbol.

The Standard went to TD Sports in Walworth Road, Elephant and Castle, where a glass cabinet displayed about a dozen handguns. They ranged from convincing plastic spring-loaded guns for [pounds sterling]25 to [pounds sterling]40 to realistic imitations costing [pounds sterling]90 to [pounds sterling]100. A small sign warned that buyers must be 18 or over.

An assistant led us behind the counter, telling us we weren't allowed to handle a gun over it. Selecting the Walther PPK/S airgun, the most powerful weapon in the shop, he showed us how to load and cock it.

Five gas canisters, which will propel about 35 powerful shots each, and 600 copper ball bearings were thrown in for nothing.

The barrel of the 3kg black metal pistol cocks realistically and the hammer clicks in place before use, like a real gun.

While it is legal for an adult to own it, displaying it in the street is an offence punishable by six months in prison.

Under current law, there is a five-year mandatory sentence for carrying a real gun but this has encouraged criminals to switch to realistic imitations.

UK crime involving replica guns leapt by 66 per cent last year, with 3,266 recorded offences. By contrast, offences involving live-firing weapons fell 13 per cent. In London, total gun crime fell eight per cent and by more in the high-crime boroughs of Lambeth, Hackney, Haringey and Newham. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.