2,000 gun licences held in Wigan

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CHILDREN as young as 14 are some of thousands of Wiganers who currently hold gun licences.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that there are currently 2,259 gun licences held in the borough, which cover 5,952 weapons.

The figures showed that the youngest licence holder is just 14 years of age and the oldest, 89.

However, the figures also revealed that 16 licences were revoked last year by the Police, as a result if “conduct which gave rise to concern that their continued possession would be a danger to the public or the peace.”

Jim Jones, GMP’s Firearms Licensing Manager, said: “All 16 revocations involved criminal conduct for offences involving drugs, assault, serious driving offences including drink driving, vehicle taking and disqualified driving. Two instances also revealed medical issues involving alcohol abuse and depression.

“These matters come to light as a result of constant monitoring of intelligence sources by Licensing Unit staff and by police officers coming into direct contact with individuals and identifying them as certificate holders.”

However, one Wigan shooting enthusiast says that there is no reason to panic about the number of licences held in the borough.

Ben Tickle, who set up the Atherton Indoor Range, said: “You do not need a licence to have an air rifle, but a shot gun or a rifle will require one. However, the checks are very stringent and you need to prove you are a squeaky clean upstanding citizen to even be considered for a gun licence. Most people who have one only use them for sport and the interview to get a licence is also strict and very specific and holders face regular reviews.”

The reassurances came after two high-profile tragedies involving licensed gun-holders in 18 months.

To buy a shotgun in Britain you need to hold a Shotgun Certificate, and to buy a rifle you need to hold a Fire Arm Certificate.

To apply for one you must contact your local police force.

People who apply for a Firearm Certificate for a rifle or muzzle-loading pistol need to be a member of a club approved by the Home Office or Scottish Office under the Firearms Acts if they intend to use the gun for target shooting only.

You have to be aged 17 or over to have a Firearms Certificate. If you are aged less than 17 you can have a Shotgun Certificate as long as you have a parent’s permission.