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Government set to review air rifle regulations after death of Suffolk teenager Ben Wragge

PUBLISHED: 09:42 10 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:42 10 October 2017

Floral tributes left outside Thurston Community College following the tragic death of Ben Wragge last year. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Floral tributes left outside Thurston Community College following the tragic death of Ben Wragge last year. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Archant

The Government will review the regulation of air weapons to see if the controls are still “appropriate and effective” following a coroner’s call after the death of Thurston 13-year-old Ben Wragge.

Ben WraggeBen Wragge

Policing Minister Nick Hurd said he would “take stock of the regulatory position” to see if any further measures may be necessary to protect the public.

His announcement follows a coroner’s call for a review of firearms laws after the west Suffolk boy was accidentally shot in the neck and tragically killed by a home-made air rifle held by his friend.

The Thurston teenager was fatally struck while playing with a group of boys at a friend’s house in the Suffolk village last year.

During an adjournment debate led by Labour’s Karin Smyth (Bristol South) in the Commons on the use and control of air rifles, Mr Hurd said he had “given very careful consideration to the report presented by the coroner in relation to the tragic death of Benjamin Wragge”.

Hundreds of flowers and messages were placed on the fence around Thurston Community College. Picture: ARCHANTHundreds of flowers and messages were placed on the fence around Thurston Community College. Picture: ARCHANT

He said: “I have recently written to the coroner and confirmed my intention to review the regulation of air weapons in England and Wales - I do think that this is an appropriate time to take stock of the regulatory position and assess whether the current controls, which are already strong... we need to assess whether they continue to be appropriate and effective.”

Mr Hurd said the review would look into evidence from Scotland where a licence is now required for air weapons, and said that he would consider the storage of weapons to ensure they do not get into the hands of children.

“The Government recognises that there are legitimate uses for air weapons... and that a balance does need to be struck between the freedom to pursue these interests and regulation or control,” he told MPs.

“The existing controls on air weapons are helping to reduce their misuse and the occurrence of tragic accidents involving these weapons, but whenever accidents do occur - and when I look back on the roll-call of tragic incidents involving often children - it is right that we do look again at the controls to see whether further changes are required or justified.”

During the debate, MPs also heard that in July last year Harry Studley, who was 18 months old at the time, was shot in the head and critically injured with an air rifle.

Ms Smyth said while Harry had survived the incident, he had been left partially sighted, suffers memory loss and has post-traumatic seizures.

The man responsible has been jailed for two years, she said.

Ms Smyth raised the prospect of trigger locks to stop the weapons being accidentally fired, as well as safer storage of air weapons.

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