Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 13:42 UK

Call for firearms age restriction

Criminal record checks are made before firearms permits are issued

The number of firearms certificates issued to young people in Devon and Cornwall has been criticised.

There is currently no legal age restriction on certificates and nearly 300 permits have been issued to young people in the past two years.

Anti-gun campaigners have called for stricter rules to be introduced.

But Supt Steve Swanni, from Devon and Cornwall Police, has insisted stringent procedures are carried out before licences are issued.

He said anyone under the age of 16 applying for a shotgun certificate would have to comply with the same safety checks as adults.

Guns are fascinating to children, but they're dangerous too
Patsy McKie, Mothers Against Violence

"The individual applicant has to be of mature and sound character," he told BBC News.

"We do criminal record checks, and we also do a home visit conducted by a trained firearms licensing officer, who is trained in the safe handling of weapons."

However, a founder member of Mothers Against Violence said she would like to see the force introduce a minimum age.

"I really think 18 should be the minimum age for a gun licence, and even then restricted to sport use, or perhaps for farm work," Pasty McKie said.

Ms McKie, whose 20-year-old son, Dorrie, was shot and killed in Manchester in 1999, believes any young person who applies for a firearms permit should be required to pass a competency test, both practical and theory.

"Guns are fascinating to children, but they're dangerous too," Ms McKie said.

"As adults, it's our job to set good examples and that includes meaning people are properly trained."

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