A new national gun surrender will allow people to anonymously hand in weapons and ammunition including heirlooms, shotguns and antique revolvers, as well as illegal stun guns and gas-firing blank pistols bought overseas.
Many such guns are held in innocence and ignorance that having them is against the law, according to the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and The National Ballistics Intelligence Service (Nabis).
Weapons handed in during past surrenders included old wartime service revolvers, war trophies – including grenades – and gas-operated blank-firing pistols and stun-guns – bought during trips to Europe, or online.
However innocently held, such weaponry can be acquired by crooks through robberies or distributed to criminal networks in other ways.
The surrender – the first since 2019 – gives the opportunity to dispose of a firearm, gun components or ammunition by simply taking it to a local designated police station and handing it in.
The campaign will see nominated police stations flagged as locations for people to take guns, stun-guns, gas-powered weapons, imitation firearms, ammunition, hand grenades or other weaponry.
The surrender is starting on May 12, and runs for two weeks.
People should check police station locations in advance by visiting their local force website or calling 101.
Deputy Chief Constable Helen McMillan, NPCC lead for the Criminal Use of Firearms, said “We’re inviting people from May 12, for two weeks, to contact local police or attend local police station and surrender any firearms – or any type of weapon – that they’re concerned about, that they have in their possession.
“They can do that anonymously and there will be an amnesty for them in order to transport that weapon or be in possession of that weapon at the point they surrender it.
“No-one needs to be concerned about walking into a station or contacting their local force.
“We don’t need to know your name, we don’t need to know how you came into possession of it, all we need you to do is give us the gun.”
Gregg Taylor, Nabis ballistic expert, said thousands of weapons had previously been surrendered including “old Webley revolvers”, issued as service sidearms in the Second World War, which were typical of items found “hanging around in the loft for decades”.
Mr Taylor also urged people to check “blank-firer” imitation guns they may have, adding that the “gas-gun” type were “legal in Europe – but definitely illegal in the UK”.
“If you don’t know the status of the gun or are unsure – take the chance to hand it in,” he added.
He also said there were also “a lot of unregistered firearms and (particularly) shotguns, pre-dating the 1988 (Firearms) Act” in homes, often “hanging over the mantelpiece”, which should be handed in, if unlicensed.
The last surrender saw shotguns making up 69% of all lethal weapons handed in.
Changes to firearms’ laws last year also closed a loophole allowing people to own some old guns – particularly revolvers – perfectly legally as antiques, because they used ammunition in calibres which were no longer manufactured.
Ms McMillan urged antique weapon-owners to “know your gun, and know the law”, adding “if you are no longer in possession legally, surrender that weapon”.
Illegal possession of a firearm can mean five years behind bars and if you are found guilty of possession with intent to supply that can lead to a life sentence.