I WOULD like to refer to your story regarding a call for a ban on air weapons following injury to a boy shot by an air weapon recently in Hangleton (The Argus, April 26).

There already is a campaign group calling for the banning of air weapons – the UK Gun Control Network, www.gun-control-network.org – established following the tragic shooting of 16 children at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland in 1996.

As well as calling (with some success) for strict controls on conventional firearms, the network campaigns for controls on air weapons and was successful, with other organisations, in lobbying for an increase in the age (now 18) at which people can purchase air weapons (in the Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006).

It is a little-recognised fact that air weapons are this country’s most misused firearm type, accounting for around half of what is recorded as “gun crime”.

Yet, while some people wrongly consider air weapon crime to be relatively trivial, it is worth pointing out there have been ten air gun shooting fatalities since 1999 and that air weapons account for more gunshot injuries than any other firearm type in the UK.

Air guns are also regularly misused in the shooting of both domestic and wild animals. This is something the GCN has been pressing the RSPCA to take more seriously for several years.

Perhaps readers could help with this issue; air guns are not toys and should be controlled like other firearms.

Peter Squires, professor of criminology and public policy, University of Brighton

YOU ask the question: “Should air rifles be banned?” I don’t think they should be banned.

But I do think air rifles should only be used in gun clubs, where they can be used under controlled and regulated conditions and responsible people who like to shoot can do so by joining a club.

By restricting their use to a gun club, you then take irresponsible air gun users off the streets. This way, no person or pet can be maimed or killed.

I understand the thrill and excitement of firing a gun at a target, as long as it is a non-living target within the confines of a designated area such as clay pigeon shooting which, although an outdoor sport, is operated in a controlled environment with constant supervised instruction.

Guns will always be a fascination to people, and some people will always want to fire them in the name of sport.

I don’t think there should be any exemption to this rule and it would be a satisfactory solution for all concerned, without the need for a ban.

More importantly, it would potentially save the lives of people involved in incidents like the one referred to in The Argus.

It is down to society as a whole, through a moral duty of care, to protect those who are vulnerable by implementing such a scheme.

David Hammond, North Court, Hassocks