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Hampshire Police Collect Hundreds Of Guns During Firearms Amnesty

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Hampshire Police have reported that they successfully collected hundreds of guns, of various types, during a recent firearm amnesty. Included among the haul were machine guns as well as shotguns, but there were also BB guns and a toy gun handed in.

This was one of a number of gun amnesty campaigns that were run around the country, including schemes in London and Wales, and police have said that it is an opportunity for people to safely hand in any firearms for which a licence may have expired, that have been left behind by a family member that has passed away, or because they were not aware of the illegality of owning the weapon.

Police have said that those handing weapons in will not be prosecuted for owning or possessing the weapon, although the guns will be forensically tested to determine whether they have been used in a crime.

During a gun amnesty, members of the public are asked to turn any firearms that they own into the police, and those that do so will not be prosecuted for owning the gun. Although the UK does not have as big a gun crime problem as some other countries, and gun crime figures actually dropped by 6% in figures released in April 2014, city centres especially do still have a gun problem that needs to be resolved. The police hope that amnesties will help them to further reduce the number of guns that are on the streets.

A Give Up The Gun campaign started in Wales this month, and after the first week of the amnesty, 35 guns had been handed in. Similar schemes were started across the country at around the same time, too. Police said that similar style operations held in London last year saw the surrender of 300 guns, while a national campaign in 2006 following the Dunblane incident, saw 23,000 guns and 700,000 rounds of ammunition handed in. It seems unlikely that a similar number will be handed over this time around, but the campaigns have become an annual occurrence.

Gun laws have been tightened this year, with the maximum sentence for anybody caught in possession of a firearm going up to life in prison, from the previous maximum penalty of 10 years. This includes people that are found to be storing a gun on behalf of another person, and the tightened rules also mean that people in possession of antique firearms may also be charged. Police were concerned that even antique guns could be made live again, and this meant that they were potentially as deadly as a new gun.

People are advised to check their houses for any forgotten firearms, and to ensure that the gun is placed in a locked box or strong bag, and that ammunition is kept in a separate bag. They should also check for opening times of any station that is running the scheme, and remember that police on the street may not be trained to deal with firearms, so guns should not be handed in to them.
 
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