Scourge of airgun misuse

Jack McConnell, the First Minister, has decided to give Scottish police forces two years to prove that existing legislation is adequate to deal with the scourge of airgun misuse, (your report 22 March).

The police will not be able to do this without the help of the public. It is an offence for young people to have airguns. It is an offence to carry an uncovered airgun in the street or to discharge one in a public area. It is of course against the law to fire an airgun at people or property. It is also illegal to use an airgun to shoot wild, pet or farm animals or birds (including, unless you have a government licence, pigeons, starlings and gulls).

If anyone sees someone misusing an airgun they have a duty to dial 999 and tell the police. If the police do not know about misuse of airguns, they cannot enforce existing laws.

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JOHN F ROBINS, Secretary Animal Concern Advice Line, PO Box 5178, Dumbarton

Living in a rural area, I strongly disagree with the view that airguns have no place outside gun clubs (Letters, 24 March). I have used one to kill three grey squirrels and a rabbit in my woodland garden within the past week. It is not practicable to net the whole site so incursions cannot be prevented.

Serious gardeners and bird lovers do need to be able to deal with pests and I am sure there are many responsible airgun owners who use them for this purpose. The debate seems to be very one-sided. Politicians need to take a balanced view. Although reckless use must not be tolerated, they should not rush to introduce a ban that would prevent responsible ownership and sensible use.

ADAM STAVERT, Kersewell Avenue Carnwath, Lanarkshire

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