Croydon North MP Steve Reed has fired off letters to the police and the Home Secretary to complain after a pawnbrokers in Norbury started displaying air rifles and other guns in its window.
Reed called the Cash Exchange shop on London Road in his constituency “utterly irresponsible”.
“Advertising guns in a shop window encourages the use of guns on our streets,” he said.
Reed tweeted his disgust, together with photographs of the shop and its window and street displays, which include a sign which calls the shop the “South London Air Gun Centre”, and offers to buy and sell new and used air guns, air rifles and accessories.
The shop is not far from a local park, and just down the road from what used to be Norbury Police Station, until Tory cuts saw the building flogged off for flats.
The MP has written to the shop’s owners to get them to stop the sale of air guns immediately “in the name of decency and public safety”. The letter has also gone to Croydon police, the council and Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary.
“It beggars belief that you have chosen to do this at a time when people across London, including in Norbury, are increasingly alarmed at the upsurge in violent crime across the country,” Reed, pictured right, wrote in his letter to the store owners.
Air guns are legal, but can only be owned or bought by over-18s. There is also a legal limit on how powerful they can be without having a firearm certificate, and rules on where they can be fired, though these are rarely enforced and difficult to police.
In one case reported last month, the bodies of seven swans – five cygnets and both their parents – were discovered beside a stream at a village in Kent. Inspection by police and the RSPCA discovered their bodies were “peppered” with pellets fired from air guns.
“It’s clear that these poor mute swans have been shot and killed deliberately,” the RSPCA inspector said. The RSPCA says it has dealt with nearly 1,000 reports of animals being shot by air guns in the past year, with wild birds and pet cats being the most common victims.
There’s a widespread view that the ease of availability of weapons, including knives, can contribute to rising levels of violent crime.
Through local Trading Standards, there are strict guidelines over what shopkeepers may display in their shop windows.
Last year, a Poundland store in Thornton Heath was forced to remove large knives from its shop window after locals’ complaints were taken up by the council.
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