Government rules out ban on imitation firearms

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The Independent Online

A ban on imitation firearms was ruled out by the Government yesterday, despite growing evidence that replica and "toy" guns are increasingly being used in crime.

A ban on imitation firearms was ruled out by the Government yesterday, despite growing evidence that replica and "toy" guns are increasingly being used in crime.

The police and anti-gun campaigners have been pressing the Home Office to outlaw imitation guns.

The number of recorded crimes involving imitation weapons has tripled in England and Wales from 566 in 1998-99 to 1,815 in 2002-03. The number of recorded firearm offences in the same period has also nearly doubled from 13,874 to 24,070 in 2002-03.

But a consultation paper published by the Home Office yesterday said banning imitation guns was impractical.

"It has proved difficult to find a workable legal definition of an imitation firearm and we do not believe that the level of effort required by agencies to administer additional restrictions is offset by public safety gains," the paper said.