With the number of animals injured by airgun attacks on the increase, the RSPCA is lending its support to a campaign to prevent further lethal incidents
The RSPCA is backing a new bill by Kent MP Jonathan Shaw to clamp down on the use of lethal weapons, such as airguns by teenagers.
Each year the RSPCA is shocked by the number of animals that have been killed and maimed in airgun attacks. During January to September 2002, the society’s inspectors investigated 800 airgun attacks on animals – a 13% increase on the same period last year.
Mr Shaw’s Air Weapons Bill will be presented to the House of Commons today (Tuesday 29 October). Children as young as 14 can currently use air weapons unsupervised, but if this bill is passed it would ban the unsupervised use of airguns by teenagers under 17.
In Wales a dog was shot 19 timeswith an air rifle, while a swan was shot on a lake in Cardiff and three cygnets were found dead on a lake in Wrexham.
In another incident, the owners of a Shetland pony shot in the head in Huddersfield offered a reward for information that led to a conviction.
The RSPCA fears that these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg and that thousands of pets and wildlife suffer and die from airgun injuries every year.
Kevin Manning, RSPCA superintendent forWales, said: “Airgun abuse is predominantly a problem among young people. The RSPCA sees a sharp increase in the number of attacks during school holidays and as the evening’s grow lighter.”
“It’s time to call a halt to the use of animals as target practice. We urge MPs to back Mr Shaw’s bill and clamp down on indiscriminate airgun attacks.”
Jonathan Shaw, a Labour MP for Chatham and Aylesford, believes that changing the legislation will bring air weapons in line withother guns. He added: “I have received letters from all over the UK which point to an alarming increase in the number of unprovoked airgun attacks on people and animals.”
Earlier this year Mr Shaw brought a Private Members Bill – the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, before the House of Commons, but it was dropped when it ran out of parliamentary time.
It is hoped that this Bill will be passed through Parliament as quickly as possible, however if it doesn’t go through before the Queen’s Speech towards the end of this year, it will have to be re-introduced.
Read about other attacks on equines: