Government rules out imitation firearms ban

Last updated at 13:29 12 May 2004

The Government has ruled out a wholesale ban on imitation firearms despite revealing that gun crime has nearly doubled in four years.

Firearms offences in England and Wales have rocketed from 13,874 in 1998-99 to 24,070 in 2002-03, according to Home Office figures.

The number of recorded crimes involving imitation weapons has tripled from 566 to 1,815 during that period.

But a consultation paper published by the Home Office today 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.

Home Office minister Caroline Flint said: "I can't envisage a wholesale ban on imitation and replica firearms."

She said there were difficulties in making such a ban an "enforceable reality".

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