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GUN OWNERS FACE PROSECUTION IF FOUND IN POSSESSION

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The three month hand-in period for owners of large calibre handguns comes to an end at midnight tonight. From 1 Oct...
The three month hand-in period for owners of large calibre handguns comes to an end at midnight tonight. From 1 October, under the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, anyone in possession of a large calibre handgun could face ten years imprisonment and/or a o5,000 fine.

Reminding gun owners that they could be prosecuted if found in possession of a large calibre handgun home office minister Alun Michael said:

'The banning of large calibre handguns is a major step towards improving public safety following the terrible events of Dunblane.

'Police forces around the country have done an excellent job organising the hand-in locally and ensuring that it has gone smoothly. This has been an enormous task for the police and over the next couple of weeks they will have a chance to collate their figures. Once figures from all police forces are available we will make them public and assess whether any further action needs to be taken.'

'I understand that many law abiding gun owners feel they have lost their sport but I am glad to see that so many of them have co-operated with the police and handed in their weapons. Everyone who has surrendered a handgun during the period will receive compensation to cover its value.

'Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world. We recognise that only the strictest control of firearms will protect the public. This is why the penalties for the illegal possession of a prohibited weapon are severe - the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.'

NOTES

1. The large calibre handgun hand-in began on 1 July 1997. By the end of August 56,800 large calibre handguns had been surrendered. In addition, 15,253 smaller calibre handguns have already been

voluntarily surrendered over the same period.

2. The Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) Bill which will extend the ban to smaller calibre handguns is likely to reach Third Reading and Report

stages in the house of lords next month.

3. Final figures for total handguns surrendered to police forces during the hand-in period will be published by the home office in mid-October. The original estimates of the number of legally-held handguns, prepared in 1996 for Lord Cullen's inquiry, were 160,000

large calibre and 40,000 small calibre. Police forces have been asked to provide an up-to-date assessment of the position in their area at

the same time as providing their returns of the number of guns surrendered.

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