Guns surrendered in amnesty
HUNDREDS of guns and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition have been surrendered to Suffolk police just over a week into a national firearms amnesty.The haul, which includes fully automatic military rifles, pump action shotguns and pocket-sized pistols, has surprised police gun experts who did not expect to recover such a large collection so soon.
HUNDREDS of guns and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition have been surrendered to Suffolk police just over a week into a national firearms amnesty.
The haul, which includes fully automatic military rifles, pump action shotguns and pocket-sized pistols, has surprised police gun experts who did not expect to recover such a large collection so soon.
The Home Office gun amnesty was launched on March 31 in a bid to recover thousands of illegal firearms from the streets.
It aims to give people a final chance to hand in unwanted or illegal firearms before new legislation is introduced, which could result in a five-year sentence for anyone in possession of a gun without a license.
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In Suffolk, police have so far collected 218 guns from different police stations in the county and many more are believed to have been surrendered since the last collection took place.
Richard Kennett, Suffolk Constabulary's firearms licensing manager, said: "There hasn't been a gun amnesty since 1996 and we're really surprised by some of what's coming in. We've had Second World War rifles like a machine gun that are all prohibited weapons. We can't issue a licence for them and they carry ten years in prison.
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"We have been very pleased. We've got some serious guns that are now off the streets. Five years as a minimum sentence has focused people's minds this time."
Armed police officers were called to 186 firearms-related incidents in Suffolk in 2001/02, and many involved replica weapons or so-called BB guns which fire projectiles with extreme air pressure and are popular with children.
Mr Kennett said most firearms already collected were exact copies of real guns.
He welcomed the introduction of new legislation, which would make it an offence for anyone to carry a replica firearm in a public place.
He said: "An armed officer facing a replica gun would only have seconds to make their minds up. Now that will be an offence unless somebody has a reasonable excuse, i.e. they are on their way to a shooting club.
"We are a rural county and we have a lot of certificate holders and by and large, the vast majority are very sensible people who look after their guns," he added.
People can hand in firearms at police stations throughout Suffolk and will not face prosecution for possession of an illegal gun.
Guns of historical value will be set aside for inspection by the National Museums Group.
Anyone who does not feel comfortable transporting a firearm to a police station can call a special hotline on 01473 613553.