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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 10:12 GMT
Firearms amnesty launched
Handguns
The amnesty will run for four weeks
Police chiefs and ministers have urged the public to make Scotland safer by taking advantage of next month's firearms amnesty.

The four week initiative comes into effect in Scotland on 31 March.

First Minister Jack McConnell, his deputy Jim Wallace and the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd have been watching the destruction of weapons already in police hands at Lothian and Borders Police Headquarters in Edinburgh.

The amnesty will coincide with a similar initiative taking place in England and Wales, between 31 March and 30 April.

Over the four weeks illegal weapons can be handed in without fear of prosecution.

Guns and knives

"The aim is to remove as many weapons as possible - principally guns of all types, including air weapons and imitation or replica firearms, but also knives, swords, coshes and indeed anything capable of causing injury - to avoid their being misused," said Fife's Deputy Chief Constable David Mellor.

"We would stress, of course, that the amnesty is as much an opportunity for people to hand in the so-called trophies often found in lofts by the relatives of war veterans, as a chance to spike the guns of those with the potential to use them in criminal activities."

It is hoped the scheme will combat the perception of "street cred" associated with carrying a weapon and that replica and imitation firearms will feature just as prominently among those being surrendered.

Collection considered

"These are not toys, after all," added Mr Mellor, "but can easily cause just as much fear and alarm as the real thing."

The last firearms amnesty in 1996 saw nearly 3,500 firearms surrendered - including rifles, handguns, shotguns, and 1,000 air weapons.

Scotland's police forces also took possession of more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition and 500 other weapons such as knives.

Weapons can be handed in at any police station with collection even being considered, depending on individual circumstances.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Gavin Walker reports
"Guns are back in the firing line."



SEE ALSO:
Guns amnesty unveiled
02 Mar 03 |  Scotland
Police consider gun amnesty
06 Jan 03 |  Scotland
Scottish gun crime 'soaring'
07 Nov 02 |  Scotland


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