YET again we read of more cruelty to pets through the shooting of a kitten in the head and the death of 16 herring gulls (The Argus, August 3).

I recently received a reply from Nick Herbert at the Home Office in response to a letter I sent to my MP about air weapons.

The complacency of his reply took my breath away Here is what he wrote: “There are some very low-powered air weapons which fire small plastic pellets. They are not lethal weapons and are not considered to be a firearm in terms of the Firearms Act.

“However, there are controls in place to tackle their misuse and it is an offence to carry one in public without reasonable excuse, and to fire a pellet beyond the boundaries of the premises.”

His reply also refers to a publicity campaign run in February 2011 aimed at air weapon users, which focused on the new Section 36 of the Crime and Security Act, making it an offence for a person with an air weapon to fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent someone under 18 from using it unauthorised.

He closed his letter by hoping his reply would give me reassurance, and that if I experienced any further trouble to contact the police.

Am I reassured? Certainly not. These controls are patently not working.

The question I would like answered is why these air rifles are in circulation in the first place.

If they are not lethal weapons (which they are in the case of the herring gulls), one can only assume they are meant to injure but not kill.

Should this be tolerated? I think not.

Valerie Lirakis, Longridge Avenue, Saltdean

The Argus printed my letter on June 13 suggesting the removal of air guns from the streets and into gun clubs, and again on July 6 when I criticised the Countryside Alliance’s decision to hold air gun shooting lessons for eight-year-olds at Plumpton College.

So it was with dismay that I read about the kitten shot twice in the head with an air rifle (The Argus, August 2).

I have kept stories in The Argus going back to 2002 reporting the shooting of humans and pets with air guns.

On May 17, 2004, The Argus printed a letter headlined “Banning air guns won’t stop attacks on pets” in a response to a pellet embedded in a pet cat’s jaw. John Atkins of Artists Rifles in Woking wrote: “Banning never achieved anything. A ban will not reduce the level of gun crime in any way.”

In retort I would say neither has not banning them.

Legislate against air guns being used in public and the risk of animals being maimed or killed is reduced greatly.

Readers who agree that airguns should be removed from the public domain can show their support by signing a Government e-petition – – and start to influence Parliament’s opposition to such weapons.

David Hammond, North Court, Hassocks