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Thursday, 3 September, 1998, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
Public give up 160,000 guns after Dunblane
Handgun
Most of the surrendered guns have been destroyed
More than 160,000 handguns have been surrendered by their owners since new laws were introduced following the Dunblane massacre, the UK Government has revealed.

Legislation outlawing handguns followed the murder of 16 children and their teacher Gwen Mayor by gunman Thomas Hamilton at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland in March 1996. Hamilton then turned the gun on himself.

Dunblane crest
The laws were a response to the Dunblane killings
The announcement comes just two days after tough new rules came into effect giving the police more control over firearms licensing.

These provide more detailed and accurate information to police about a person's suitability to hold a firearm.

In August gun owners complained they were still waiting for around 100m in compensation for weapons handed in as part of the ban imposed after Dunblane shootings.

Most guns in Essex

Home Office Minister of State Lord Williams of Mostyn said in a Lords written reply that 162,198 handguns had been surrendered to the police in England, Wales and Scotland under the new firearms laws.

The largest number of guns - 6,766 - was handed in to Essex Police.

Also, 6,476 were given to West Midlands Police, Metropolitan Police Area Four received 5,864, Thames Valley 5,626 and Hampshire 5,172.

"The vast majority of handguns surrendered to the police have been destroyed, or will be when the relevant compensation claims have been settled and disposal instructions issued by the Firearms Compensation Section," Lord Williams said.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan ran amok in Hungerford in 1987
"A small number of handguns will be retained by the police for official purposes or will be given to suitably authorised museums."

Hungerford massacre

This is not the first time that legislation has encouraged the public to give up their guns.

More than 3,000 firearms - including handguns - were surrendered or disposed of under the 1988 firearms legislation following the Hungerford massacre in August 1987.

Armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and a Biretta pistol, Michael Ryan rampaged through the streets of the town shooting 16 people, including his own mother, before killing himself.

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