Shotgun Certificates Issued To Hundreds Of Kids
Figures obtained exclusively by Sky News have revealed that eight-year-olds have been issued shotgun certificates by police in England.
A Freedom of Information request to all police forces in England and Wales shows in the last five years, eight-year-olds have received the certificates in Devon and Cornwall, Lancashire, Sussex and Kent.
Chief Superintendent Jim Nye from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “The Firearms Act of 1968 allows someone of that age to have a shotgun.
“Devon and Cornwall is very much a rural community, and the young persons who are asking for a certificate to be granted are generally brought up in a farming community where it’s tradition and we don’t give them out without (a) substantial amount of checks.”
Sky News’ Freedom of Information request showed more than 670 under 14s have been given shotgun certificates by police in the last five years.
Every force in the country was able to provide a five-year breakdown for under 14s except Greater Manchester, North Yorkshire, the Metropolitan Police, South Yorkshire, Essex and Sussex Police.
There is no minimum age for applying for a shotgun certificate in the UK, with the chief constable of each force deciding whether to issue the licence.
The law still prohibits people under 18 from owning or buying a shotgun, or using one without supervision.
Police recorded 7,709 offences involving firearms in 2013/14, down from 8,135 the year before.
However some campaigners fear that introducing children to guns at a young age may mean they turn to them in a crisis.
Christine Hall from Gun Control Network said: “The danger is it poses in the mind-set of the child that it’s fun to kill things.
“It seems strange that a child can’t go into a pub and have a pint but they can have access to a shotgun.”
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is Britain’s largest shooting organisation.
They actively encourage young people to try shooting sports.
A BASC spokesperson told Sky News that it supports the Home Office in guidance on firearms law, which has said: “It is in the interests of safety that a young person who is to handle firearms should be properly taught at a relatively early age.”
They added: “For many children growing up in families where shooting is a part of life, acquiring a shotgun certificate is part of training in shooting safely which emphasises responsibility and self-discipline.
“This can only be to the public benefit and as the police confirm is no threat to public safety.”
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source: Sky News