Press release

New offence keeps airguns under lock and key

A new offence to stop under 18s gaining unauthorised access to airguns has been introduced by the government today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From 10 February, owners will be liable for a fine of up to £1000 if they do not take reasonable precautions to stop unauthorised access to their airgun by people under the age of 18. Safety leaflets informing new owners of the offence will be also be included with every air gun purchased.

Home Office statement

Home Office crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said: ‘For the vast majority of responsible airgun owners, keeping their weapon safely locked up is routine. But when an air gun is allowed to get in to the wrong hands the consequences can be tragic.

‘Although serious incidents are rare, there have been cases in recent years where children have got hold of carelessly stored airguns that have resulted in severe injuries and even deaths. We want to do everything in our power to keep the risk of such incidents to an absolute minimum.

‘With this new legislation, we are saying there is no excuse. If you do not keep your airgun safely away from children you will be prosecuted.’

No additional burden

Adrian Whiting, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on Firearms and Licensing said: ‘The police service supports this control on the security of air weapons. Responsible owners already take sensible precautions to ensure safe storage of their air weapons. This control will place no additional burden on them.

‘Sadly, there have been deaths caused by air weapons and frequently the victims are children. For those owners who have a lax attitude to storage, this provision should encourage them to take action to improve safety.

‘ACPO has been involved in the work leading to this order which we hope will improve the security of air weapons and prevent harm and serious injuries.’

How to keep your weapon safe:

  • store your airgun out of sight and separately from pellets
  • use a robust, lockable cupboard and keep the keys separate and secure
  • always store your airgun inside a house rather than in an out building, such as a garden shed
  • never store a cocked or loaded airgun
  • when using your airgun, keep it under close supervision and never leave it unattended

Notes to editors

  1. In 2009/10 there were 1,317 incidents where an air weapon was obtained without permission. There was one death and 67 serious injuries caused by air weapons.

  2. The offence has been introduced to Parliament with a Commencement Order enforceable under Section 46 of the Crime and Security Act 2010. The new offence comes into force on 10 February 2011. Individuals will face a fine of up to £1000.

  3. For more details please call the Home Office newsdesk on 0207 035 3535.

Updates to this page

Published 27 January 2011