Northern Ireland has led the way in restricting gun ownership. Since 2004, anyone who buys, owns or uses an air weapon is required to have a license. Scotland adopted similar legislation at the start of this year.
Over the last two and a half years, Cats Protection has monitored reports in the press of cats who have been shot with an air gun. During this time Northern Ireland has experienced the lowest incidence of shootings reported in the press compared to other parts of the UK. This suggests that the licensing legislation in Northern Ireland is working.
In 2016 202 cats in the UK were reported in the press as being shot with an air gun. Crucially 90% of these attacks were in England and Wales.
We believe making it illegal to own an air gun without a licence will stop these deadly weapons falling into the wrong hands so easily and reduce the number of cats killed or left with life-changing injuries.
We are calling on all candidates standing in the General Election to support a call for England and Wales to follow Northern Ireland and Scotland’s lead on air guns and introduce licensing.*
Given that The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 and The Firearms (NI) Order 2004 require any person who possesses, purchases or uses an air weapon to have a licence in Scotland and Northern Ireland, we are calling for the licensing of air guns to be extended across the whole of the UK.
So why are we targeting air guns and not the perpetrators of these terrible attacks? The reality is that air gun attacks on cats are rarely witnessed. It is very hard to establish when and where a shooting takes place. This is why we want the weapons themselves to be strictly licensed.
We can only bring about change to the laws on air guns in England and Wales if the many thousands of cat lovers like you get behind our campaign. If you want to help us stop lethal air guns falling into the wrong hands, please sign our petition.
* Air gun regulation is a reserved matter in Wales which means it is dealt with at Westminster.