BB guns outlawed

AS POLICE and councils declare war on Ball Bearing guns, an Ipswich market trader has warned he will be forced out of town by a new ban on the weapons.

By Paul Geater

AS POLICE and councils declare war on Ball Bearing guns, an Ipswich market trader has warned he will be forced out of town by a new ban on the weapons.

Ipswich Council is to ban BB gun sales on the market from the start of next month under the terms of a new licence all traders are being asked to sign.

But the ban has enraged Roger Granville, of Coddenham, who sells them on his army surplus stall.


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He's planning to pull out of town after ten years trading on the market.

"I can't make enough money without selling them," he said. "I'll carry on trading until Christmas, but after then it just won't be worthwhile.

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"I've been trading on Ipswich market since I was a teenager, ten years ago. Now they've suddenly turned round and told me I can't sell these – they're trying to pick off the market one stall at a time."

He said he only sold BB guns – no replica weapons.

"I used to sell lock-knives as well, but I was told they were illegal evening though they were used for fishing – so they were withdrawn," he said.

"BB guns are plastic guns firing plastic pellets – in other countries they are really big business, I don't know what the problem is here," he added.

Mr Granville said the law banned the sale of BB guns to anyone under 14, but he refused to sell them to anyone under 16.

The law says no one under 17 can buy air weapons – although most BB guns do not fall into this category – and no one under 14 can use them.

Air weapons can only be used by people aged between 14 and 17 under the supervision of someone over 21.

"We take great care about who we sell to," Mr Granville said.

The council banned their sale on the market after being contacted by Suffolk police.

"From our point of view, the main problem is that they look just like the real thing," said Inspector Clive Benneworth.

"Like any weapons, BB guns could cause serious injury if they were fired at close range at an eye, but the real concern is that you can't easily tell whether it is real or not.

"If members of the public, or police officers, think a weapon could be real then we have to deploy an armed response team," he added.

The ban on BB guns has been extended to local schools.

At Westbourne High parents have been warned that any pupil taking a BB weapon into the school faces permanent exclusion.

"I'm delighted to hear that the council is taking this action against the sale of these weapons," said headteacher Chris Edwards.

"We have had two incidents, one involving a pupil here more than a year ago and one involving someone who was not a pupil but came on the premises and fired a BB gun."

Mr Edwards accepted that young children will play with "Cowboys and Indians" toy guns – but said there was a world of difference between these and potentially dangerous BB weapons.

And Ipswich MP Chris Mole has promised his support to any steps to outlaw the weapons.

"I am well aware of the increasing concern about these weapons and I would certainly back moves to make them less easily available.

"I think the council has acted extremely wisely in banning their sale on the market – it is not appropriate to sell them there," he said.

The new market licence comes in force on December 3. After that date, all weapons will be banned from the market.

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