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A firearms surrender launched on Saturday by West Midlands Police has netted almost 30 guns in the first few days, including a .44 revolver, WW2 pistols and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
Until August 2 anyone who surrenders a firearm – including handguns, rifles, BB guns, imitations, ammunition or antiques – at a West Midlands Police station can do so without being prosecuted for gun possession.
The move coincides with new legislation that sees anyone found with a gun risking life behind bars – and that includes anyone who’s storing a weapon for someone else.
In total, 25 firearms have been handed over at police station front desks since the July 19 surrender launch, plus three more collected from the addresses of elderly residents who may have struggled to make the journey.
A .44 Ruger Redhawk was handed over to Bournville Lane police station, whilst four revolvers, a silencer and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition were surrendered after being found during a Northfield house clearance.
And yesterday (July 23) officers made a special trip to the home of a man in his 90s, from Canley in Coventry, who wanted to dispose of a double-barrelled shotgun he’d stored in his loft for decades.
Detective Inspector Andy Bannister is leading the gun surrender push. He said: “It’s great news people are taking advantage of the surrender…that’s 28 fewer firearms that could potentially end up in the hands of criminals.
“We’ve had Webley .38 service revolvers handed in along with starting pistols, flare guns, air rifles and shot-guns; the elderly Coventry gentleman used the gun to shoot rabbits after the second world war to supplement his food rations!
“The new law – which came into effect on July 14 – increases the maximum jail term for illegal gun possession from 10 years to life. Past experience tells us there will be people in the West Midlands who, out of mis-guided loyalty, are storing guns for partners, relatives or friends. They are risking life behind bars, even if they have no intention of using the gun themselves…they need to contact us before it’s too late.”
The legislation update also clamps down on antique firearms amid fears obsolete weapons are being made viable by criminals with ballistics know-how.
Anyone given a prison sentence, including suspended sentences, of three months or more is now banned from possessing antique firearms which could previously be held as a “curiosity or ornament” with a relevant certificate.
And the firearms surrender now gives anyone affected by the legislation an opportunity to dispose of such weapons safely.
Det Insp Bannister, added: “The problem of antique weapons being used in crime is an emerging threat we need to address. The law has been changed to make communities safer and we welcome the tighter controls…the change in legislation closes any loopholes that may be exploited by criminals.”
Guns can be taken to any one of the 41 police stations across the West Midlands – 11 of which have 24-7 front desks – but people are advised to check station opening times in advance.
Any weapon handed in is assessed and made safe by the force’s firearms specialists before being collected either for disposal or use in training exercises.
To receive advice on how best to transport the weapon responsibly from home to the police station phone 101 before travelling. Anyone unable to reach a police station is also advised to call 101 and arrangements can be made to collect the weapon.
If you suspect anyone to be involved in illegal firearms call West Midlands Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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