By Pamela McGowan
WORKINGTON MP Tony Cunningham has backed the Government’s new violent crime bill, which will add anything that looks like a real firearm to the current ban on guns.
But Mr Cunningham has assured enthusiasts it will not affect hobbies like paintballing and airsoft – a more realistic form of the popular team sport.
He says the real impact of the legislation will be to encourage more involvement in community-based crime prevention initiatives. The much-praised Workington Pubwatch Scheme was flagged up by Mr Cunningham as a good example.
He said it would toughen up on guns, but not stop people having controlled fun.
“Anything that looks like a real firearm will no longer be legally sold, imported or manufactured,” he explained. “Paintballers and airsoft gunners can carry on with instruments that don’t look like real firearms.
“This does not interfere with the aim of the legislation to stop children and young people treating guns as toys, learning about the power the gun gives them and graduating to more dangerous weapons.
Gill Marshall-Andrews, chair of the Gun Control Network, also reassured paintballers. She said: “No-one needs a realistic imitation gun – except perhaps a reenactment society.
“Paintball and airsoft guns do not have to look like the real thing. If it’s not lethal and doesn’t look like a real firearm then there’s no problem.”
The new violent crime legislation follows a 66 per cent nationwide rise in gun crime involving imitation weapons.
The new legislation aims to ensure both police and local communities have the powers to tackle gun crime and alcohol-related violence.