A WORCESTER solicitor has issued a warning to people to have their airguns checked if they want to avoid prison.

Gary Harper, of Hamer Childs, Worcester, is advising everyone who owns an airgun to have the muzzle velocity checked, following a recent case at Worcester Magistrates Court.

He said: “Most airguns can be possessed lawfully by adults, providing the muzzle velocity is not over 12ft/lb.

“The moment an airgun has a muzzle velocity of 12ft/lb, it needs a firearms certificate to make possession of such an airgun legal.

“Anyone without such a firearms certificate commits an offence.

“It makes no difference whether or not a person knows that any airgun in their possession is over this limit.”

Mr Harper said various factors could affect the muzzle velocity of an airgun, such as the type of pellets used, oil in the barrel, temperature and height above sea level that the airgun is used.

The most important of these factors will be the type of pellet used and whether or not there is oil in the barrel, he said.

“In relation to a recent case at Worcester Magistrates Court, I had occasion to investigate the effect use of different pellets can have on muzzle velocity of an airgun.

“Tony Wall, of Sandwell Fieldsports, demonstrated to me that simply by changing the pellets fired from an airgun, the muzzle velocity varied between 9.07ft/lb and 12.52ft/lb. The latter reading would be over the current legal limit,” he said.

The guideline case in relation to possession of firearms, such as an airgun with a muzzle velocity of 12ft/lb suggests that custody may well be an appropriate sentence.

He said: “It is most important that owners of airguns bear this in mind.

“Purchasing an airgun from a gunsmith which is later found to be over the legal limit – even when accompanied by a statement from the gunsmith that a firearms licence is not required to use the airgun – will not be a defence in law.”