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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK
Amnesty nets 40,000 weapons
Guns
More than 40,000 guns were handed to police

A month-long gun amnesty across the UK saw more than 40,000 guns handed to the police, the Home Office said.

The final figure is significantly higher than initial estimates of 25,000 weapons.

The amnesty was called after two teenage girls were gunned down outside a New Year party in Birmingham.

Letisha Shakespeare, 17, and Charlene Ellis, 18, died during a fatal shooting in Aston.

Home Secretary David Blunkett has said the resulting amnesty was a "tremendous achievement".

Just under a million rounds of ammunition were also handed in.

Mr Blunkett said the government was determined to tackle "the scourge of gun crime and get guns off our streets".

He added: "The final figures for the gun amnesty are proof that people have taken the opportunity to rid themselves of firearms in advance of stiff sentences.

"Taking over 40,000 guns out of circulation is a tremendous achievement and the police must be congratulated for the professional way they operated the amnesty."

Mr Blunkett said he recognised that the police, particularly in metropolitan areas, did an "excellent job in difficult circumstances".

Mother's plea

"The new legislation we are bringing in to tackle these particularly unacceptable offences will give them the support they need to stamp down on gun crime."

Letisha Shakespeare's mother Marcia has urged parents to spend more "quality time" with their children to stop them taking to the streets and becoming embroiled in the gun culture prevalent among inner city youths.

"At the end of the day it starts from the family home," she has said.

"If you are not giving your children quality time they are going to go out there and go on the streets."

The last national firearms amnesty in 1996, following the killing of schoolchildren at Dunblane, saw 23,000 firearms and 700,000 rounds of ammunition surrendered.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The government is hailing the amnesty as a success"



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