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10-year-olds have shotgun licences

Some 26 10-year-olds are among nearly 5,000 under 18s with permission to own guns, MPs disclosed last night as they called for a shake-up of the "complex and confusing" mess of firearms legislation. The Commons home affairs select committee demanded new rules on the ages at which guns can be owned and used.

A child can apply to use a shotgun but has to be 15 to use it unsupervised by an adult, and 14 to use a rifle.

The MPs said criminals with suspended jail terms should lose licences. Their investigation follows 12 gun murders by Derrick Bird in west Cumbria in June. He had two convictions, but was allowed to keep his shotgun certificate. Shooting groups said 34 separate pieces of legislation govern firearms and they are hard to understand.