Anti-gun campaigners slammed a police force for issuing a
shotgun licences ”like smarties” – after handing a certificate to a
The primary school pupil given a licence by Bedfordshire Police is believed to be one of the youngest in Britain to have been granted permission to carry a weapon.
The shocking revelation comes just weeks after gun-nut Derrick Bird, 52, killed 12 people in Cumbria with a firearm he legally owned.
Bedfordshire Police revealed it has handed out 49 shotgun and firearm licences to children under 18-years-old following a Freedom of Information request.
Outraged Lucy Cope, 55, who founded campaign group Mothers Against Guns, urged the government to seize the 10-year-old’s gun and discipline police officers who granted the licence.
She said: ”There is no way in any shape or form should a 10-year-old boy have a shotgun – it is horrendous.
”Police should hang their heads in shame. The gun must be taken away and licence revoked right now.
”I’d like to speak to that boy’s mother and father and police officer who
thought it was a good idea. What were they thinking?
”The days when young boys play Cowboys and Indians are over. Young people are dying on the street because of guns every day.
”We are not learning from mistakes, look and Dunblane and Cumbria.
”Police are recklessly handing gun licences out like smarties and it is
”I’ve spoken to Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York) who is a friend, on the phone, and he is horrified.”
Children under 18-years-old can legally own a gun if their parent or guardian sign a permission slip.
A gun licence costs just £50 and lasts for the next five years.
Beds Police have refused 27 applications for gun licences in the past two and half years.
Shotguns owned in Bedfordshire have trebled in the past year from 353 to 1,095 and firearms licences increased from 342 to 590.
Chrissie Hall, a co-ordinator for charity Infratrust which supports those
affected by gun violence, said a 10-year-old owning a shotgun is not illegal.
She added: ”The issues which worry me regarding youngsters and guns is the risk of suicide or accidental injury which I would assume could be very high when young children are involved.”
A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police said children of any age can apply for a gun licence.
But the force Firearms Licensing Department is always asked to make further checks with the applicant and family.
The spokeswoman added: ”These checks are in-depth and will include interviews with the applicant and their parent or guardian to ensure that the young person fully understands and is able to demonstrate knowledge of safety precautions, handling and personal responsibilities in relation to possessing a shotgun or firearm.
”In addition to this, an adult certificate holder must ensure compliance in the usual way with the license requirements such as secure storage and guarantee that the applicant will not have unrestricted access.
”Should any concerns be raised during the process, further investigation will take place prior to making a decision on license approval.”
Glynn Alger, secretary general of National Rifle Association, said: ”There’s no issue if they are supervised and are taught correctly.
”Children have this certificate if they?re involved in a serious sport or if
they?re with their family.
”This is a sport not a military activity and safety is the mantra.”