Warning to collectors as figures show scale of shotgun owners in Norfolk
- Credit: Arcant
Owners of some antique firearms have been warned they have two weeks to obtain a licence for them following a change in the law.
The government has for the first time introduced a legal definition of antique firearms to close a loophole exploited by criminals to them in violent crime.
It means collectors owning some firearms will require a licence from September 22.
Minister for policing and crime, Kit Malthouse, said: “Criminals have been exploiting a grey area in the law to get their hands on these firearms, so this change will make our streets safer and ensure these potentially deadly weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.
“There are of course legitimate reasons for owning a firearm that is an antique or was previously regarded as an antique, and their owners are not involved in any wrongdoing. They may be owned by a collector or as a family heirloom, for example.”
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Anyone who owns a firearm must register it with their local police force.
Norfolk licenced the highest number of shotguns per capita in England in the past year, government figures show.
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As of March 31 this year, there are 6,567 shotguns registered for every 100,000 people. Suffolk has the second highest in England with 5,827.
Both forces have more than 10 times the number of registered shotguns compared to those with the lowest numbers – Merseyside has 542 active licences, with 550 issued by the Metropolitan Police.
However, offences involving firearms in Norfolk are below the national average.
The new definition means collectors and owners of guns capable of firing seven specified types of ammunition must have them licenced.
Graham Currie, a specialist dealer in antique militaria and registered firearm dealer based in Attleborough, said: “Some of the calibers that have been reassigned are quite popular with collectors.
"It does mean that people who have invested money in them will either have them kept on a firearms licence or have them deactivated and there will be a significant loss in value when that is done.
“There may be a lot of people with these firearms who are unaware of this change. Casual collectors or people who have been left it in an inheritance may not know they will need a licence.”