Saturday, 15 March 2008

Children allowed guns in Cornwall

Readers may be shocked to find out, from the Celtic League article below that the Devon and Cornwall Police have legally issued 8 firearms licences to children in Cornwall.

This comes at a time when injuries caused by firearms have increased, which is not surprising really when it is considered that under current legislation, children under 15 years of age can hold a shotgun licence!

Cornwall Police Watch appreciate that some of these licences may go to children who work on farms, but the law doesn’t specify anything about being entitled to a licence ‘only if it can be shown it is needed for work related purposes’.

I wonder how many children have been injured by firearms in Cornwall?

CPW believe, along with the Celtic League, for children to be allowed to run around Cornwall with guns, which they have been given licences for by the Devon and Cornwall Police, shows the time is ripe for a change in the Firearms Act 1968.



The Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has called for a summit to review firearms laws, but the initiative has been rejected by the English Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Currently England has control of regulations on the use of firearms, but following an increase in firearm casualties in Scotland there have been calls to change the law. Mr MacAskill wants to gather police, gun control campaigners and shooting interest groups for a summit on firearms misuse, but Smith believes the time isn't right.

Current legislation allows children under 15 years to hold a shotgun licence. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed in Cornwall that in the last five years Devon and Cornwall have issues 8 firearms licenses to children under the ages of 16 years of age. It would seem that when guns can still be legally issued to under 16 year olds, firearm laws need updating.

However, in Scotland a two year old boy was killed three years ago by an air rifle, sending shock ways throughout the country and the latest figures from Scotland reveal that in the last year casualties of firearms increased by 25% with one in three of them being children.

The 1968 Firearms Act is now a little out to date and should be reviewed after the overhaul of The Manual of Guidance on the Police Use of Firearms, which took place at the beginning of the millennium. After all, why shouldn't public laws on firearms be updated in keeping with police regulations?

The Celtic League have written to Jacqui Smith asking her to consider updating the law.

"Dear Minister Jacqui Smith

Firearms Act 1968

We were concerned to read recently that you rejected calls for the Firearms Act 1968 to be reviewed and for an invite to attend a joint summit with Scotland, where the issues could be debated, was declined.

As you will be aware controls on the use of firearms are under Westminster's control with the other Celtic countries needing to wait for the English legal system to update its legislation regarding these laws. However, it does not seem fair that when one of the devolved administrations of these islands – in this case Scotland – calls for a debate on firearm controls in the form of a joint summit, your department unhesitatingly reject the offer.

In our opinion the Firearms Act 1968 is outdated and it is time for the legislation to be reviewed. In particular the current legislation allows children under the age of 16 years to hold a firearm licence, which beggars belief. In Scotland alone last year, casualties of firearms increased by 25%, with one in three of them being children.

If Westminster is not ready to devolve powers relating to firearms controls to the Celtic countries, then at least be willing to engage in a debate on the issues so that a mutual understanding and a furthering
of democracy can ensue.

We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely"

(Article compiled for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot)

Celtic League
J B Moffatt
Director of Information
Celtic League


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