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Firearm laws revisited

* Possession of pistols, revolvers, rifles and the ammunition for them has required a police firearm certificate since 1920. Machine guns have been prohibited weapons since 1937, and all shotguns have required a police certificate since 1967.

* In 1995 there were 32,000 firearm certificates and 69,000 shotgun certificates on issue in Scotland. The corresponding figures in England and Wales were 142,000 and 654,000. The certificates issued in England and Wales cover an estimated 409,000 firearms and 1,297,000 shotguns. There are around 2,700 registered gun dealers in Great Britain.

* The level of homicides not involving guns is three times higher in the United States than in England and Wales. In contrast, the level of homicides involving handguns in the US is 150 times higher than in England and Wales.

* There are 2,118 approved gun clubs in Great Britain, 247 of them in Scotland. The current minimum age at which a person can legally be in possession of a handgun is 14, but under-14s can still use them if they are a member of a cadet corps or pistol club.

* A total of 2,754 firearms were reported stolen in 1994, of which 52 were from schools. Thefts from schools included 25 starting guns and 15 air weapons, but also taken were eight pistols, two rifles and a shotgun.

Source: Evidence submitted to Cullen inquiry by the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Home Secretary

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