Recent data has been released under the Freedom of Information Act that 7071 gun licenses were issued to under 18’s between 2008 and 2010. These figures were obtained by the BBC from 51 separate forces across the United Kingdom.
West Mercia and Cumbria police issued licenses for eight year olds, but Gloucestershire police granted a seven-year old a license. Ten other certificates were given to nine-year olds.
West Mercia Police claimed the eight-year-old boy was granted a license only for clay pigeon shooting and was supervised by his father.
The C.H.A.S.C. (Common House Affairs Select Committee) pleaded for tighter restrictions on gun licenses, requesting minimum limits of age.
Chief Police Officers Association or (ACPO) has advised the introduction of an ‘absolute minimum age’ for allowing anyone to shoot firearms and shotguns, be set at 10-years of age.
Spokesperson for the Home Office, which is examining the laws, said: “Public protection is the first duty of any government and our firearms laws are among the toughest in the world”.
Representative for the UK’s largest shooting organization, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Christopher Graffius, said, “A shotgun certificate is a piece of paper which allows people under the age of 18 to shoot under supervision”.
“The law still prohibits a person of this age from owning or buying a shotgun or using one without supervision. It is important to remember that you cannot buy so much as an airgun pellet in this country until you are 18,” Graffius said. “An applicant for a shotgun certificate is subject to the same procedure whatever their age which includes police vetting, face to face interviews and a home security check. In the case of children, they will come from families where shooting sports are a part of daily life and where the police are convinced that the young person and their family will act legally and responsibly.”
A representative of West Mercia Police said “They are not allowed to own a firearm and cannot even have access to a gun cabinet – a member of their family or the gun club would supply them at the appropriate time and then take back possession of the firearm afterwards”.
A report in 2009 showed that the United States is the most heavily armed nation in the world, with approximately 60 million Americans bearing 200 million firearms. An average of one child dies from gunshot wounds every 3 hours.
One family member proudly stated that his five-year old son was the youngest to ever shoot an M16, in the documentary, ‘Locked and Loaded: Kids and Guns in America.
The youngest person to be granted a gun license was merely 10 months old. The 686 White Onyx Beretta gun was a gift from the child’s grandfather.