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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Deadly danger of fake guns
Guns given to the police
Some of the weapons given to the police
Police are warning that people carrying replica weapons run the risk of being shot and killed by armed officers.

The caution was issued by Lothian and Borders Police as they revealed that 201 real and fake guns were handed in during their two-month amnesty.

Among them were a German WWII German Luger pistol, a Colt 45 gun and a 9mm Magnum.

Assistant chief constable Ian Dickinson said: "Our aim was to get as many of these weapons off the streets as possible before a tragedy occurred and we've gone a considerable way to doing this.

Later this month, the BBC is holding a "Crime Day". Click here to find out how you can take part.

Weapons haul
36 air rifles
34 air pistols
51 12-bore shotguns
Toy and flare guns and starting pistols

"But we all need to continue our efforts to prevent such a tragedy happening.

There was even an antique shot handed in anonymously but police believe it is connected to the Scottish explorer David Livingston.

PC Andrew Burt, from the force's firearm licensing section, said the weapon was handed in anonymously but officers had gained some information on its origins.

He said: "It came to us through a third party. We believe it belonged to some relative of David Livingstone who lived in the Borders who doesn't want to be named.

Armed police
Officers have seconds to make decisions

"We have sent it to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. They are one of the experts in this area so we've asked them to have a look at it."

He said that the David Livingstone Centre museum in Blantyre had also been informed about the find of the 19th Century firearm, which is missing its wooden handle.

Seventy-five of the 201 guns were handed in from the Edinburgh area, 67 from the Borders, 38 from East/Mid Lothian and 21 from West Lothian.

Mr Dickinson said: "We decided to have a two-month surrender initiative because of concerns at the number of incidents in our area where air weapons, or imitation or replica firearms were used.

Daily dangers

"If someone carries a weapon like this and points it at a member of the public or a police officer, there is a chance they will be shot, injured or even killed by one of our armed response teams.

"Our officers are highly trained and professional, but often even they cannot tell the difference between a replica or a genuine firearm until the weapon is examined closely. They are faced with these situations daily."

During the amnesty armed police were called out to 70 firearms-related incidents.

In the last 10 days police were involved in more than 10 incidents including:

  • A 15-year-old boy was seen brandishing an air pistol, found to be a toy BB gun, outside two Galashiels shops

  • A 16-year-old boy with a handgun in Musselburgh

  • A 32-year-old man in possession of an imitation handgun and crossbow in Restalrig Circus, Edinburgh.

How you can take part in the BBC's Crime Day

We want to hear other stories of how crime has been cracked - have you and your friends started a group or campaign to improve the quality of life on your estate or neighbourhood and succeeded in bringing down crime?

Call us on 08700 100 900 to tell us your story.

Or write to Crime Crackers, BBC Scotland, Broadcasting House, Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow G12 8DG.

Alternatively use this form to e-mail your response.

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See also:

04 Jan 02 | Scotland
31 Jul 01 | UK
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