Lincolnshire Police are offering people the chance to hand in their firearms without facing prosecution for illegal possession — for the first time in a decade.
The Firearms Amnesty runs from November 3 until 14, during which time anyone unlawfully in possession of firearms should hand them in at Lincoln, Grantham, Boston or Skegness police stations.
Anyone handing in a weapon can ask to remain anonymous, however should officers discover that the firearm has been used in an incident they may wish to contact that person again for help with investigations.
The call for weaponry also includes antique weapons such as from wars, or firearms that people have acquired through a relative.
To mark the launch of the amnesty, the force demonstrated some of the different types of firearms that had been retrieved in previous years, which are kept in a temporary gun store.
The collection included an AK 47, a Baretta, a Glock and a Desert Eagle. Also in the store were replicas, antiques and well-disguised stun-gun devices.
There are around 20,000 licenses for firearms and shotguns in the county though police beilieve there are around 60,000 registered weapons.
Officers said they obtain one or two illegal firearms every week in Lincolnshire.
Inspector Phil Baker said: “We will be checking all of the firearms that are brought in to us. Clearly if they have been involved in criminality and it’s, for example, been used to murder somebody then we will potentially need to speak to that person again.
“The actual number of calls that we receive relating to firearms discharges has decreased dramatically. We had about 65 last year, which is about five per month.
“Lincolnshire Police officers have never had to fire in what people loosely term as ‘in anger’, which is due to the nature of how we train our officers in prevention.
“The last time we actually had a fatal shooting incident in Lincolnshire was near Bardney, around five years ago. A man committed suicide after shooting someone else who fortunately survived.
“Our aim first and foremost is to protect the public and we need these weapons not to fall into the wrong hands.
“I don’t want people to think that there are hundreds of weapons being held illegally on the streets by organised criminal gangs.
“There are a number out there however and a lot of them have even been tucked away in a loft and the person doesn’t even know it’s there. This is the opportunity for those people to come forward with no risk of prosecution.”
PC Colin Williams, Firearms Training Manager at Lincolnshire Police, said: “With antiques, you can have a weapon that’s over 70 years of age but if you can still get ammunition for that weapon then it’s not an antique. If that is the case, you can still have it but you would have to de-activate it.
“If you have a weapon that’s over 70 years old and you can’t get ammunition for it then you can keep it as a curio.
“Once the firearms are brought in, checks will be carried out to see if they have been used. Once we have completed our checks the weapons will be chopped up and destroyed.
“When it comes to valuable antiques it’s a little different. Last time we had some valuable stuff, we offered them to special armouries and museums.
“There are some firearms that we come across that are very surprising. Things like working torches that turn into stun guns, people are buying them off the internet thinking they can have them but they are prohibited.”