Informing a debate or pandering?

Two teenagers were injured in an attack that used a .22 air rifle in Portstewart at the week-end. In today’s News Letter there are the predictable calls for tighter laws from the father of a victim and a local politician. The father called for “… the law on the sale and licensing of air rifles and pellet guns to be made as stringent as it is for shotguns”. The MLA claims that “There has been a big crackdown on shotguns with new licensing laws but pellet guns, which can be just as deadly, are, it seems, widely on sale and easy to get hold of.” Never let the facts, that in Northern Ireland the licensing requirements for an .22 air rifle are already the same as a shotgun, that a shotgun is many times more deadly than any pellet gun (any volunteers for an experiment?) or that it was an air rifle not a pellet gun used in the attack get in the way of the story.

  • Was that not last weekend?
    An air rifle is a weapon and it is right that their sale and ownership are subject to the same rules as shotguns (I have shot both).
    A child died in England recently after being shot accidentally with an air rifle.
    Pellet guns should be restricted, although perhaps not to the same extent.
    There are too many idiots buying them to shoot at pets/neighbours/random bystanders.
    If you are going to buy one just to mess around with it then you are not responsible enough to own one in the first place.
    Ask anyone who has been shot with one by the local spides and they will probably say the same.

  • aquifer

    Air guns, mini motorbikes, disorderly and abusive drunks, gangs of armed extortionists who are not paramilitaries until they begin to sing about it. Is the law an ass or just sitting on a fat one.

  • Rory

    What about (I’ve always wanted a chance to say that on Slugger) an amnesty for air weapons much as the recent amnesty on knives. It may prove to be even just as successful (i.e. a total bloody waste of time) and who knows next month we could move on to catapults and then peashooters, forks and spoons….

  • Oh and BTW (says the pedant) can we not give the da and the MLA a bit of leeway here.
    A lot of air rifles shoot pellets. That may be where the confusion is arising here.
    Not everyone is a firearms expert.

  • fair_deal


    The father does indeed deserve leeway but the journo who didn’t take the 30 secs to check what the law actually is and ends up including a quote that makes the father seem foolish doesn’t. As for the MLA you don’t need to be an expert to know a shotgun is much more dangerous than an air rifle.

  • Well, it’s no less deadly if you’re a rabbit ;P
    People do seem to make a lot of mistakes where firearms are concerned, though.
    I’ve seen a lot of stories where shotguns have supposedly shot bullets, but it doesn’t upset me greatly.
    Considering the fascination among some with guns in this country you’d imagine people would be more clued-up (!).
    Damned townies…….

  • fair_deal

    “Damned townies……. ”

    Yeah right