A police chief was under fire today after he recommended changing firearms legislation to allow 10-year-old children to use GUNS.
Adrian Whiting, Chief Constable of Dorset Police, wants the age at which people can apply for a firearms certificate to be lowered from 14 to 10-years-old.
Children as young as 10 can already legally possess a licence to fire a shotgun as long as they are supervised by a licence-holding adult.
But Mr Whiting has now called for the legal age at which children can possess firearms which shoot bullets – such as rifles – to also be lowered to 10.
He revealed to a Home Office Select Committee that there are currently 26 children aged 10-14 in England and Wales who can legally fire shotguns.
His recommendation has been branded ”dangerous” and ”disgusting” by anti-gun campaigners who want the age limit increased to 18.
Lucy Cope, founder of Mothers Against Guns, said: ”Having guns in the house which can be used by 10-years-olds frightening.
”I’m thoroughly disappointed with this senior police officer. I completely disagree with him. It is disgusting and appalling.
”I don’t think a 10-year-old is responsible to have a firearm.
”Not all firearm murders are committed by illegal guns. We know some gun owners can sell their legally owned weapons for three times the amount to gangs.
”The government should be increasing the age to 18 not reducing it to 10-years-old.
”Why do we want to teach a 10-year-old child how to fire guns?”
Currently the law states that children aged 10 and above can apply for a shotgun licence, which allows them to fire supervised by a suitable adult.
Police carry out interviews of parents and guardians and provide safety lessons to the children before signing off the license.
Children must currently be aged 14 to possess a firearms licence which lets them fire guns with bullets, such as rifles.
On Tuesday Mr Whiting told the Home Office Affairs Select Committee into the Derrick Bird shootings in Cumbria both ages should be brought in line with each other.
The age restrictions were imposed by the government during the 1920s, Mr Whiting told the select committee.
He was asked by committee chairman Keith Vaz what age he would recommend.
Mr Whiting said: ”The minimum age should be 10, I would suggest.
”When the certificate is granted it does not give the young person the ability to purchase firearms or ammunition, nor does it give them an opportunity to shoot other than when they are supervised.”
Mr Whiting told the committee that the risk of children shooting other people is hugely minimised in a supervised environment.
The remarks were made in discussions about Mr Whiting’s report into Cumbria Constabulary’s firearms licensing procedures after taxi driver Derrick Bird murdered 12 people and injured 11 in June with a legally owned shotgun and rifle.
The committee supported Mr Whiting’s recommendations that patients holding firearms or shotgun licences should have their medical records marked so that doctors can inform the police of any medical reasons why the individual should have the licence revoked.