The article below was first published in the January 2018 edition of Airgun World Magazine.
The issue included a copy of the new Air Weapon Safety Leaflet.
THE AIR WEAPON SAFETY LEAFLET
One of the really great things about airgunners is their sense of community and their willingness to share their knowledge and experience to help others, especially those new to the sport. From time to time there is an even greater need to share this knowledge and to spread the help it provides wider than ever. This is one of those times.
Recently, there was an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on the subject of airgun safety. Sadly, accidents involving air weapons have resulted in serious injuries and deaths. In some cases, these accidents might have been prevented by more careful handling and storage. The call at the debate was for a Government review of the regulation of airguns and Home Office Minister, Nick Hurd, explained during the debate that following careful consideration of the report presented by the coroner in relation to the death of Benjamin Wragge, who was 13 when he was accidentally shot with an air weapon in 2016, he had agreed to the coroner's request for a review.
The Home Office has responded to the need for information on airguns and has updated its Air Weapons Safety leaflet, a copy of which you will find inside this magazine. Further copies will be included with new airguns distributed by the Airgun Manufacturers and Trade Association, or you can send a request to us at Airgun World and we'll post one to you. The new leaflet can also be found online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/air-weapons-a-brief-guide-to-safety-jan-2011 . The new guide includes advice on safety, explanation of the law, details on possession and use, and the age, and places, at which young people may use airguns, and we regard it as essential reading, whatever your level of experience.
We, the airgun community, need to be ever-vigilant and make sure we never break the safety code, and especially, to help newcomers to our sport to be fully aware of their obligations to, not only the law, but equally importantly to the everyday rules which govern the safety and security of our airguns to prevent accidents. The advice in the Home Office leaflet is sound and will, I am sure, be endorsed by us all. Please make sure you read your copy and pass on the advice to all who you encounter, be those in your club or the young people new to the sport who you monitor and teach.
Commenting on the leaflet distribution, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: "I am grateful to Airgun World for their help distributing these safety leaflets inside this month's issue because, as I am sure readers are aware, the secure and lawful storage of these weapons is vital if we are to keep people safe. As I said when we announced the review, now is the appropriate time to take stock of the regulatory position and assess whether the current controls are effective. We will do so against a backdrop of existing controls that are, by all international comparisons, very robust.
Security at all times
One of the crucial aspects of the safety advice is that of security when your airgun is not in use. It is your responsibility to make sure that no 'unauthorised person' e.g. a child or someone under the age of 18, has access to your airgun, or ammunition, when it is stored at home, or when you put it down for a short period during a shoot. A securely locked cupboard or a security cord attached to the airgun and a fixed point will stop curious hands taking the airgun away and risking accidents. It's all common sense of the kind we already apply to electrical devices and power tools we use around our homes.
Spread the word
We are all ambassadors and safety officers who act on behalf of the sport we love. Please, study the new Home Office leaflet, make sure you apply its advice at all times, and share that advice with everyone you know who is in any way connected to our sport.