Cats Protection has delivered a 100,000-signature petition directly to 10 Downing Street to call for a change in the law on air gun ownership in England and Wales.
The petition is part of a major campaign by the charity for legislation on air guns to be brought in line with stricter regulation that already exists in other parts of the UK. Along with over 50,000 supporters, the charity has also written to the Home Office calling for air gun licensing as part of a government review.
Cats Protection’s Chairman, Linda Upson, delivered the petition to Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street on Wednesday 9 May along with acting Chief Executive Dominic Sullivan and the charity’s Advocacy team.
Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations, Jacqui Cuff, said current laws in England and Wales meant there are not sufficient safeguards to stop air guns falling into the wrong hands. She explained: “We know that 90% of reported air gun attacks on cats happen in England and Wales, and it’s no coincidence that these are the parts of the country where licencing of air guns is not in place. Laws on air guns in Scotland and Northern Ireland are much tighter, and we believe this should apply for the whole of the UK.
“Cats who are shot with air guns can suffer horrific, and often fatal, injuries. We have heard stories of cats losing eyes, limbs, and being left with life-changing injuries, as a result of such attacks. Often, owners are unaware of why their cat is injured until a veterinary x-ray shows air gun pellets embedded into their flesh.
“In the wrong hands, air guns are deadly weapons, and updating the laws relating to them is well overdue in England and Wales. Our petition of 100,000 people shows that a huge number of people agree that action must be taken urgently.”
In April, it was reported that a Horsham cat sustained an airgun injury, which his owner first thought was the result of an accident. The pretty black and white received veterinary treatment to a front leg, from which a pellet was retrieved. It is thought that heartless youths had targeted him.
In 2017, 164 cats in the UK were reported in the press as being shot with an air gun.
A 2016 Cats Protection survey found that almost half of vets questioned (44%) had treated cats which had been the victim of attacks by air-powered weapons in the last year, with nearly half of these shootings proving fatal (46%).
Northern Ireland led the way in restricting gun ownership and since 2004, anyone who buys, owns or uses an air weapon in Northern Ireland is now required to have a licence. Scotland introduced licensing of air weapons at the beginning of 2017 and Cats Protection is calling for the licensing of air guns to be extended across the whole of the UK.
To find out more about the campaign, please visit: www.cats.org.uk/airgunspetitio