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Police Chief: Let Kids Aged 10 and Up Have Gun License

The Daily Mail via YellowBrix

November 22, 2010

ENGLAND – A police chief has been heavily criticized after calling for children as young as ten to be allowed to use guns such as rifles.

Adrian Whiting, Assistant Chief Constable of Dorset Police, wants the age at which people can apply for a firearms certificate to be lowered from 14 to ten.

His recommendation was branded as ‘disgusting’ by anti-gun campaigners who want the minimum age raised to 18.

Lucy Cope, founder of Mothers Against Guns, said: ‘I’m thoroughly disappointed with this senior police officer. I completely disagree with him.

‘I don’t think a ten-year-old is responsible enough to have a firearm. Why do we want to teach them how to fire guns?’

Currently children as young as 10 can possess a license to fire a shotgun, as long as they are supervised by a license-holding adult over 21.

Mr Whiting, the firearms spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), told MPs that the law should be the same for guns that fire bullets.

He was speaking to the Home Office Affairs Select Committee into June’s Cumbria shootings, in which taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people and injured 11 others before turning his gun on himself.

Mr Whiting said: ‘Because children as young as 10 have been able to shoot perfectly safely with a shotgun certificate, there is no reason to interrupt that.

‘The evidence in relation to young people shooting does not give any cause for concern.’

Mr Whiting later said that the current minimum age of 14 can be circumvented in some instances – such as for pest control – so some children younger than 10 can legally shoot rifles and pistols.

His suggested minimum age of 10 would have no exceptions.

He stressed: ‘When the certificate is granted it does not give the young person the ability to purchase firearms or ammunition, nor does it give them an opportunity to shoot other than when they are supervised.’

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: ’The core issue is the need to look at standardizing age restrictions on both shotguns and firearms.

’Children as young as ten can already be granted shotgun certificates. In practice, lawful exemptions exist which allow even younger children to have access to firearms and use them, without needing a certificate at all.

‘Assistant Chief Constable Whiting in his submission to the Home Affairs Committee wanted to draw attention to this anomaly and he has also recommended that no-one under the age of 15 be allowed to shoot unsupervised, as is currently the case.’

The Home Office committee, chaired by Labour’s Keith Vaz, also asked questions of other senior firearms officers, including Assistant Chief Constable Sue Fish, the Acpo spokeswoman for gun crime.

She was questioned about the influence of violent computer games on violence among young people.

Ms Fish said: ‘My sense is that I find [such games] extremely distasteful, and I cannot help but feel that they cannot help the situation.’

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