New data shows increase in number of firearms registered in Cambridgeshire


- Credit: Matthew Usher

The number of legally held guns in Cambridgeshire has increased significantly over the last decade.

Newly-released figures from the Home Office show that in March this year, there were 10,181 licensed firearms in the area, up from 7,287 in 2009. The number excludes shotguns, which are licensed separately.

It means there are 1,199 firearms for every 100,000 people in Cambridgeshire, an increase of 28 per cent from March 2009, when county records were first collated. It is the highest rate at any point over the last decade.

In total, 3,022 valid firearm licences in Cambridgeshire covered an average of 3.4 guns each.

There were a further 29,883 licensed shotguns in the county - a slight decrease on a decade ago.

Gill Marshall-Andrews, chairman of the Gun Control Network, said that society should be working towards fewer guns, and that the rise in legal firearms was difficult to explain.

She said: “We campaign strongly for tighter licensing laws and those have been introduced, by and large. It is becoming more difficult to get a gun licence, so I have no idea why it has gone up.

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“Unless we are going to say that nobody should have a gun - and we have never said that - you should have a good reason to own a gun, and you should be a proper person. The guidance is stricter and the licensing regulations, if properly applied, should mean that fewer people have a gun.

“For years and years, the shooting lobby has said that gun crime it is just a matter of illegal weapons, but it is not true to say that gun deaths are related to illegal weapons alone.”

Between April 2017 and March this year, there were 161 new applications for firearm licences in Cambridgeshire - and all of those were granted.

A further 570 licences were renewed. Just five licences were revoked.

The firearm rate in Cambridgeshire was higher than that across England and Wales, where 578,000 firearms - 989 for every 100,000 people - were licensed.

In 2016-17, the most recent year for which numbers are available, there were 31 fatal shootings in England and Wales.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “It is the responsibility of individual forces to issue firearms certificates, and there are several reasons why the number of legally-held firearms may have risen in the last decade, such as changes in legislation. Therefore, the increase in the number of legally-held firearms is not necessarily a cause for concern.”