The number of legally-held guns in Gainsborough and the rest of Lincolnshire has shot up to a record high, new figures reveal.
Home Office statistics show that in March this year, there were 13,337 licensed firearms in the county, which is 29 per cent more than ten years ago.
This means there are 1,775 legal firearms for every 100,000 people, up 20 per cent from when comparable records began in 2009. That’s higher than any point over the last decade.
The figures do not include shotguns, which are licensed separately, but they have alarmed the Gun Control Network (GCN) organisation, which called the steady increase in legal firearms “a problem for us all”.
The organisation’s chairwoman, Gill Marshall-Andrews, said: “We know there is a strong correlation between the number of guns in circulation and the number of deaths and injuries caused by guns.
“For too long, the myth has persisted that gun crime in the UK is committed with illegal guns.
“Shooters have successfully persuaded the general public that urban gangs with illegal guns are responsible for most of our gun homicides. But this is not true, especially for women.”
The GCN said four-fifths of female gun-deaths occured in domestic incidents, most of which involved licensed weapons.
Under current legislation, one licence can apply to multiple weapons and must be renewed every five years.
According to the data, 4,226 firearms licences were on issue from Lincolnshire police as of March 31, each covering 3.2 guns on average.
In the financial year 2018/19, officers logged 224 applications for new licences. Nearly all (97%) of these were granted and only six refused. A further 435 licences were renewed and 17 revoked.
However, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation said the number of legal guns used in crime was “miniscule and statistically insignificant”.
Its firearms director Bill Harriman said: “The UK has some of the strictest firearms laws in the world. We are proud of our legislation and work well with the Home Office to ensure public safety is of the highest priority.”
There are nearly 160,000 licences across England and Wales, covering 597,000 guns.