Air rifle review underway following shooting of Bristol toddler and intervention of Bristol South MP Karin Smyth

The family of a young Bristol boy who was left with lasting injuries after he was shot with an air rifle have welcomed a government review into air weapons after their MP Karin Smyth raised the issue in the House of Commons.

Both Karin and Edward Studley, the father of Harry Studley who was just 18 months when he was shot in the head by a former family friend in 2016, are helping to inform a new government air weapons review.

They are calling for changes to the way air guns are regulated – asking the government to consider whether introducing licencing for air weapons might help reduce tragic incidents. They’d also like to see trigger locks, securicords and the need for such weapons to be kept in lockable cabinets to be introduced in a bid to prevent more children getting hurt.

“Existing controls are not enough,” said Ed in his submission to the government Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd. “We need trigger locks, securicords and lockable cabinets to prevent tragic incidents like what happened to Harry.”

The review recognises that, while fatal air weapon shootings are rare, at least four children have died in the UK as a result of air weapon shootings since 2005. This includes 13-year-old Ben Wragge from Suffolk, whose death and the subsequent coroner’s report has helped inform the government review.

The law currently forbids under 18s from possessing air guns unless supervised by someone over the age of 21 or on a private premises with the consent of the occupier but there are currently no licensing requirements.

New licencing regulation was introduced in Scotland in 2016, with 4,000 air weapons handed in as part of an amnesty ahead of the licensing coming in. Karin has this week written to Mr Hurd asking him to ‘very carefully consider’ licensing in England and Wales in light of the change to the law in Scotland. “Children in Bristol South should be afforded the same level of security as children in Scotland,” she says.

Ed, whose son still has a pellet lodged in his brain and suffers with seizures, said: “If there’s licensing in place it will be policed better and take more of these harmful weapons off our streets. The way they have rolled out this law in Scotland is the way forward for England and Wales. We want to ensure that everyone in England and Wales are fully protected.

“Those who have a legitimate reason to purchase, possess and use an air gun will be able to retain ownership and would simply need to apply for a licence.”

The results of the review are expected later this year.