London, Jan 21 (ANI): On the day the MPs are due to debate a possible ban on shotguns for children, figures have revealed that hundreds of primary school-age children have been granted licences over the past three years.
Between 2008 and 2010, a total of 281 children aged 11 and under were granted licences, one of them as young as seven.
Five licences were granted to eight-year-olds, 25 to those aged nine, while no fewer than 92 went to 10-year-olds. Another 158 licences were given to children aged 11.
According to the figures, every single day, an average of four licences were granted to children aged under 16.
The disturbing statistics, which are higher than previously thought, emerge on the day that the Commons is due to debate whether under-10s should be banned from being granted licenses to use shotguns.t present, they may not be given licences for other firearms, such as revolvers, until they are 14.
However, there is no lower limit for shotguns. The decision to grant a licence rests with a senior police officer, and all under-18s must have an adult over 21 with a firearms licence to vouch for them.
Labour MP Thomas Docherty is introducing a bill to ban the use of shotguns for children at least as young as 10, the age of criminal responsibility. He hopes to get a bill passed by the end of the parliamentary session, but he would need government support.
"These are very disturbing figures. These children are below the age of criminal responsibility and yet are being issued with firearm licenses," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"I call on the government to support my bill which would restrict access of very young children to lethal weapons," he said.
Most of the licences were granted by rural forces, where children use them for land management and shooting for sport.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has backed calls for the ban on under-10s using shotguns, and in September David Cameron said he would be happy to look at the case for a tightening in the law. (ANI)
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