Children issued with gun licences

CHILDREN as young as ten are being issued with shotgun licences by Suffolk police, it can be revealed today.Anti-gun campaigners have condemned the decision, arguing children are not responsible enough to use the powerful weapon.

CHILDREN as young as ten are being issued with shotgun licences by Suffolk police, it can be revealed today.

Anti-gun campaigners have condemned the decision, arguing children are not responsible enough to use the powerful weapon.

A Freedom of Information request found that an 11-year-old has been given a shotgun licence by police already this year, while in 2006 a ten-year-old was handed one.

In the past five years 182 under-16s have received shotgun licences from Suffolk police which are valid for five years.

Rebecca Peters, director of the International Action Network on Small Arms, said: “A child of ten is by no means equipped to take on such responsibility. This is a legal loophole which the UK Government must close.”

Suffolk police said the law does not provide a minimum age for shotgun certificates but children under the age of 15 must be supervised by a person over the age of 21 at all times and any licence application needs to be countersigned by a parent or guardian and counter signed by an independent person.

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Following that an officer would attend the youngster's address and conduct an interview in their home.

Richard Kennett, Suffolk police's firearms services manager, said: “We can only enforce the law as it is and that is what we are doing. Clay pigeon shooting is an Olympic sport and if youngsters are interested in a sport like that, if they are not introduced to it at an early age they would possibly not reach the standards to partake in that event.

“People perhaps when thinking about young people and guns think about inner city crime which has got nothing to do with lawfully-held shotgun.”

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