Apr 20 2004

By Arryn Buggins

About 1,000 Warwickshire people are risking a five-year prison sentence by failing to register their gun.

There are just 10 days left for owners of self-contained air-cartridge guns to comply with new legislation, but only a handful have heeded the message so far.

Just seven firearms have been handed in to Warwickshire Police and these were at Leamington, Stratford and Warwick stations. Not one has come from Rugby or the north of the county.

A further 32 people who have applied have all been accepted.

These licences and certificates cover 12 self-contained gas cartridge rifles and 57 self-contained gas cartridge pistols.

John Appleby, firearms licensing manager for Warwickshire Police, said: \"It\'s very disappointing that so few people have responded to this new legislation and it\'s also very puzzling.

\"When you take into account that if found guilty of possessing this type of air weapon, the owner will face a minimum of five years in prison, their lack of action is absurd. There is still time to take positive action and I would urge owners to do so immediately!\"

By Saturday May 1, owners of self-contained air-cartridge weapons must have either registered an application with the force or have handed it in at a police station.

Of the 32 applications received, half already hold licences for other types of firearms.

Since January 20 it has been an offence to manufacture, sell, purchase, transfer or acquire any air weapon using a self-contained gas cartridge system.

The legislation was brought in to protect the public from criminals, who convert them to fire live ammunition.

Applicants need security measures to prevent unauthorised access to their weapon, with a gun clamp or cable, or a gun cabinet. If approved, the owner will be issued with a firearms certificate.