Sunderland gun owner loses licence after rifles theft

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THE owner of guns stolen from the back of a car has been stripped of his licence.

A shotgun and two rifles were stolen from a car parked in Old Mill Road, Southwick, along with ammunition.

Police combed the area in the days after the theft last Saturday, until the missing guns were found in a burning wheelie bin on New Year’s Eve.

The owner of the weapons, who held them legally and had a gun licence, has now had it revoked and a number of other guns seized, Northumbria Police has confirmed.

After the theft, senior officers had been quick to assure people living in the area that there was no danger to the public.

But ward councillor Rosalind Copeland, who is involved in Sunderland’s Safer Cities Initiative, said she thought people would be worried by it.

“I think residents will be concerned to think maybe someone in their neighbourhood has these guns.

“Or it could be that someone has come into the neighbourhood.”

The weapons were recovered when police received a report of a wheelie bin on fire at Julius Caesar Street, in Southwick and, on arrival, discovered the three guns inside.

Two men, aged 26 and 36, were arrested and released on bail.

Strict UK gun laws are among the toughest in the world.

Independent referees provide confidential character statements in which they are expected to answer in detail about the applicant’s mental state, home life and attitude towards guns.

Officers check the Police National Computer for a criminal record and they speak to the applicant’s GP for evidence of alcoholism, drug abuse or signs of personality disorder.

Social services can also be asked for reasons to turn down an applicant.

Senior police officers must be sure that prospective shotgun holders have a secure location for the weapon, usually a dedicated gun cabinet. Each certificate is valid for five years.

Legislation states that the firearms “must be stored securely at all times so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, access to the guns by unauthorised persons” - anyone who does not have a firearms licence.