Up to half a million replica guns (airsoft) are flooding into Britain each year just through one port alone, police revealed today.
The airsoft guns, which can be converted into real guns in a matter of hours, are bringing terror onto the UK's streets. (this is completely false! Airsoft guns can not be converted into real guns!) (Ignorant Brits!)
Uzis, Berettas and AK47 airsoft rifles are among the huge stash of airsoft guns being shipped in from across the globe by importers at Felixstowe in Suffolk.
Surrender your guns: Met Chief Sir Ian Blair poses with a real uzi, right, and an imitation weapon at today's launch of the Met's four-week campaign
Though some are sold on legally police fear that most are falling into the hands of criminals who convert them into live firearms or use them to intimidate petrified victims.
Half of all gun-enabled crime, including street robberies, involves imitation weapons that have either been converted to fire deadly live ammunition or look so realistic even police can't tell they're fakes.
Scotland Yard yesterday launched a month-long "surrender" scheme, urging young men and boys or their relatives to hand in airsoft guns at police stations anonymously, in a bid to stem escalating gun crime.
The surrender scheme was launched by the Met to tackle the easy availability of airsoft guns on London streets and enforce new legislation introduced in October which makes it an offence to manufacture, import or sell realistic imitation guns.
The maximum sentence for carrying a replica airsoft gun in public has also been increased from six months to a year.
BB guns, cap guns, blank-firing pistols, airguns and airsoft guns - which fire plastic ball bearings and are used at accredited game centres - are all included in the new laws.
One mother has already walked into a station in South East London and handed in 19 airsoft guns that she had found in her son's bedroom.
Detective Chief Superintendent Barry Norman, of the Violent Crime Directorate, said that there were 30 or 40 importers at Felixstowe each bringing in about 1,000 guns on a monthly basis.
He said: "We don't know yet exactly how many are coming in. But if you're looking at a thousand a time then the numbers quickly become vast.
"Some of these will be destined for legal means but my assumption is that a great many are destined for illegal outlets. We are doing are very best with Customs to detect this.
"We have a consignment of airsoft weapons sitting in the dock at Felixstowe now. This is about tackling the supply chain internationally, nationally and locally.
Mr Norman revealed he once found an airsoft gun in his own teenage son's bedroom a couple of years ago as he cleared out the room when his son left to go to university.
He said: "It horrified me. I was terrified it was real. I was relieved that it wasn't but that relief was followed by the realisation that he must have walked the streets with it to get it here."
The Met is launching a crackdown on market stalls and shops where airsoft guns are mainly sold. Officers will carry out test purchases on companies selling them on the internet and prosecute suppliers.
Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said: "Imitation weapons cause fear and distress on our streets and I would urge our communities to take this chance to get rid of them.
"Every airsoft gun handed in is one less that can be used for violence and intimidation. Whilst overall crime in London has significantly decreased this campaign is aimed at young people whose lives are being blighted by gun culture and imitation firearms are an intrinsic part of that."
The Met is also distributing 600,000 leaflets in "priority" boroughs urging people to hand in the weapons.
Commander Shaun Sawyer said: "Whether it belongs to you, your son or daughter, brother or sister, friend or partner, by handing it in you will be taking one more weapon out of circulation."
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