Number of legally-held guns in Derbyshire increases

The number of legally-held guns in Derbyshire is on the rise, new figures show.
The number of legally-held guns in Derbyshire is on the rise, new figures show.

The number of legally-held guns in Derbyshire has shot up to a record high, figures reveal.

New Home Office statistics show that in March this year there were 13,711 licenced firearms in the area –37 per cent more than 10 years ago.

This means there are 1,307 legal firearms for every 100,000 people, up 31 per cent from when comparable records began in 2009. That's higher than any point over the last decade.

The figures do not include shotguns, which are licenced separately.

Under current legislation, one licence can apply to multiple weapons and must be renewed every five years.

According to the data, 3,466 firearms licences were on issue from Derbyshire police as of 31 March, each covering four guns on average.

In the financial year 2018-19, officers logged 166 applications for new licences. Nearly all (99 per cent) of these were granted and only two refused.

A further 402 licences were renewed and 10 revoked.

The non-profit Gun Control Network called the steady increase in legal firearms 'a problem for us all'.

The organisation's chairwoman, Gill Marshall-Andrews, said: "We know there is a strong correlation between the number of guns in circulation and the number of deaths and injuries caused by guns.

"For too long the myth has persisted that gun crime in the UK is committed with illegal guns.

"Shooters have successfully persuaded the general public that urban gangs with illegal guns are responsible for most of our gun homicides.

"But this is not true, especially for women."

The GCN said four-fifths of female gun deaths occur in domestic incidents, most of which involve licensed weapons.

But the British Association for Shooting and Conservation said the number of legal guns used in crime is 'miniscule and statistically insignificant'.

Firearms director, Bill Harriman, said: "The UK rightly has some of the strictest firearms laws in the world.

"We are proud of our legislation and work well with the Home Office to ensure public safety is of the highest priority."

In March 2019, there were nearly 160,000 licences across England and Wales, covering some 597,000 guns.

Police force areas in rural regions had a consistently higher number of firearms per 100,000 people than in cities.

The Home Office attributes this to their lower populations, and said weapons owned in the countryside are likely to be used for game keeping and farming, as well as leisure activities such as target shooting.