Police given licence to fire muskets

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The Independent Online
Police officers from all over the country are being taught to fire guns dating from the English civil war after the handgun law passed earlier this year made it illegal to own certain other types of gun.

Since the Firearms Amendment Act was passed, following the Dunblane tragedy, applications for black-powder licences have increased three-fold and the course was set up to help officers become more familiar with these weapons.

The course is run by West Yorkshire Police and every student on the course is given the chance to fire a matchlock and flintlock musket and to visit the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, which provided the weapons.

The Cullen inquiry, held in the wake of Dunblane, when gunman Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and one teacher before turning the gun on himself, recommended that the "best training practicable" should be given to the firearms inquiry officers who process the applications for firearms certificates from the public.

Sergeant Ken Lane, an officer for the West Yorkshire Firearms Dealers and Explosive Unit, said: "Handling and firing the guns will help the inquiry officers become more familiar and experienced with the type of weapons covered in the applications they are processing."