Gun amnesty 'will help cut crime'

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The Independent Online

Thousands of firearms are expected to be surrendered to police during the next month as part of a national amnesty to help tackle the rising problem of gun crime in British cities.

Thousands of firearms are expected to be surrendered to police during the next month as part of a national amnesty to help tackle the rising problem of gun crime in British cities.

The public will also be encouraged to hand in blank-firing weapons, airguns, CS sprays and knives to help reduce the pool of weapons available to criminals.

During the amnesty, which starts today, people will be able to hand in firearms without being prosecuted for illegal possession of a gun. They will, however, face charges if they are found to have used a weapon for criminal purposes.

The national firearms amnesty to help rid the streets of illegal guns – first reported by The Independent – runs until 30 April. The move precedes the introduction of tougher sentences for illegal possession of prohibited firearms – a minimum five-year jail term for those convicted. Every police station will accept the weapons.

Police chiefs called the first amnesty in seven years amid growing concern that gun crime is becoming commonplace in many cities. During the last amnesty, which followed the school massacre at Dunblane in Scotland, 23,000 firearms and 700,000 rounds of ammunition were surrendered.

Bob Ainsworth, a Home Office minister, said: "Taking guns off our streets will save lives and cut crime."