Handguns are banned. More people are shot with handguns now, because every handgun is illegal therefore only criminals have them. Those criminals know for a fact that the law-abiding don't have them. A well thought out law, as we've come to expect.
Airguns are not (yet) banned but you have to be 18 to buy one. I can't be certain about things so far back but as I remember, you were allowed to own one from the age of about 13, but you were not allowed to buy one. An adult had to decide whether you could be trusted with one and buy it for you. I expect that's changed now. Airguns weren't especially dangerous although you could put someone's eye out with one. But then you could do that with a pencil.
Below airguns are things called 'airsoft'. They don't fire lead pellets, they fire tiny ball bearings or plastic balls. The cheaper ones can just about penetrate a paper target and as for accuracy, you'd be better off throwing the gun at the target.
Nevertheless, you still have to be 18 to buy one. They are not for children.
So when a primary school child turns up in the playground with one of these pellet guns, the correct response is not :
Lorna Cox, 34, who has two children at the school, said: 'I think toy guns, like BB guns, should be banned.
'Young children should not be allowed to have them. I am confident that the school has handled this incident well.'
Young children are not allowed to have them. That's already law. They should not have had access to them at all. That is the responsibility of the parents. Yet the knee-jerk response is 'ban them all' even from those who do nothing more than while away an afternoon in the garage shooting plastic pellets through paper targets. Because of one irresponsible owner, all must suffer.
This is how the bans march on. Start with something actually dangerous then move down the line until anything that looks remotely gun-shaped is banned, and Action Man is sold with a feather duster and a mop. The only knives he'll see are in Barbie's kitchen and he won't be allowed to touch them.
The marching ban is hard to stop when it's underway. Look at the insistence on banning Electrofag which isn't smoking, contains no tobacco, burns nothing and produces no smoke. Its crime? It looks like smoking. That is all there is to it. Sweet cigarettes were made of sugar and contained no nicotine. Banned, because they looked like cigarettes. They might make children smoke, even though the taste of burning leaves isn't at all sugary. Soon you'll be in trouble for chewing a pen.
Nobody was harmed by these children, although they should not have had access to the airsoft gun at all. Should they be punished? Yes, because that is how we learned, as children, that some things were bad. We also learned the scale of badness. Some things would get you shouted at. You hadn't done anything seriously bad but you had done something wrong. Best not do it again because there was also the matter of escalating punishments for subsequent offences. Another of those old traditions now lost to us.
Some things would get you a whack, some would get you confined to your room, some would get you suspended from school and some would involve a visit from the local policeman to give you a really scary telling off. It depended on how bad the bad thing was.
Most times, we didn't know we had done anything wrong until the shouting started. The bleeding hearts would say 'oh, bless him, he didn't know better'. My father would say 'Well he bloody does now'. His method was far more effective.
The punishments weren't fatal. They left no lasting scars, neither physical nor psychological. In most cases they only needed to be applied once, because we learned that doing that thing was Bad and we would get into trouble. So we didn't do it again (if there was anyone watching).
So yes, the children should be punished but please, back off with the ban hysteria. Make it clear to them that they did a very bad thing indeed and that they should never do it again. Children don't like being punished. Once they associate something with punishment, most of them will not do it again. For those that will, they're likely to end up in the dropped-soap showers anyway. There will always be a few.
Police officers were not called to the school.
Good. This is a parental discipline matter, not a police matter.
If they had fired the gun while shouting abuse, then obviously the police would have been called at once. In this world, names are more dangerous than guns.
Actually, where airsoft is concerned, it's a close call.