I was surprised to discover an amendment to the Firearms Act. Thomas Docherty (Labour Member of Parliament for Dunfermline and West) introduced a private members bill to legislate a minimum age of 14 for a shotgun license.
I did not understand why Thomas was arguing for a minimum age in Parliament – especially a young threshold.
Perplexed by this revelation, I decided to investigate further and see what Docherty said when begging to move. Horrified is what I then became;
At present there is no minimum age for possessing a shotgun licence. This is at odds with the legislation covering other firearms, where there is a minimum age of 14. According to figures that I obtained from the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire), almost 5,000 children in England and Wales possessed a licence to fire a shotgun. Of those 5,000 or so licences, 26 were issued to 10-year-olds, 72 to 11-year- olds, 134 to 12-year-olds and 231 to 13-year-olds. It is unfortunate that neither the Scottish Executive nor the Northern Ireland Executive keeps figures centrally for their devolved areas. However, I am sure we can assume that the figures are proportional to those elsewhere.
Granted, these figures are located in rural England and most likely on farms; I do feel the urge to ask a moral question though. Should the state be granting access to firearms for adolescents, especially children?