Firearms amnesty to tackle gun crime
POLICE in Suffolk are today launching a firearms amnesty in a bid to recover hundreds of unwanted or unlicensed guns from the streets.The amnesty, part of a nationwide campaign, will be the last chance for people to dispose of firearms before new legislation is introduced which could result in a five-year jail term for those in possession of a gun without a license.
By Danielle Nuttall
POLICE in Suffolk are today launching a firearms amnesty in a bid to recover hundreds of unwanted or unlicensed guns from the streets.
The amnesty, part of a nationwide campaign, will be the last chance for people to dispose of firearms before new legislation is introduced which could result in a five-year jail term for those in possession of a gun without a license.
It comes after Suffolk police revealed armed officers had been called to 186 incidents involving replica guns, air weapons or bb guns in a public place in 2001/02.
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More than 20 firearms have already been handed into police stations in the county ahead of the amnesty – including a 38 calibre revolver described by police as "absolutely lethal".
Suffolk Constabulary's gun licensing manager Richard Kennett said old war guns, in the wrong hands, were as dangerous as any modern gun.
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"A 38 calibre revolver that was handed in is essentially an old wartime gun but it's a proper revolver and is a prohibited weapon," he said.
"One of the messages of the amnesty is even if they're legally held guns if they are not wanted then we would be happy to take them so they are not available to be stolen or misused.
"One of the biggest things we get are bb guns. Kids come home with them then parents discover them and bring them in. Officers are seizing them regularly off people in public places."
A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital has confirmed that there has been a significant increase in the number of people attending the accident and emergency department with injuries caused by bb or airguns during the past five years.
The amnesty will take place between today and April 30 and those handing in guns will not be prosecuted for illegal possession.
Any weapons recovered will be crushed in the force's hydraulic guillotine unless they are of historic value, where they will be set aside for inspection by the National Museums Group.
Assistant Chief Constable Colin Langham-Fitt said: "We are committed to making Suffolk the safest county in England and Wales by 2006.
"Ridding the county of unlicensed weapons will help us achieve this goal. People in Suffolk can help us by clearing their homes of any unwanted or unlicensed weapons. Every firearm that we destroy is a firearm that will not fall into the hands of a criminal."
Anyone who does not feel comfortable transporting a firearm to a police station can call a special hotline on 01473 613553 and arrangements will be made for its collection.