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Gun incidents: 27 people in South West hurt last year

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: August 18, 2014

Gun incidents: 27 people in South West hurt last year

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More than 25 people were admitted to hospital in the Westcountry as a result of a firearm wounds last year, official figures reveal.

Five of the 27 injuries were among children under the age of 18, according to the Department for Health.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust had to deal with 15 cases, and Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital seven.

The Whitehall department, releasing the data for 2012-13 following a parliamentary question, explained there were 13 possible causes of a firearms wound, ranging from assault to accidental discharge and legal intervention.

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A further 590 received hospital treatment as a result of a “sharp object” or knife wound, including 84 children, the date shows.

While the far South West is not immune to serious violent crime, the region is considered among the safest in the UK.

Many of the firearms-related incidents are likely to relate to farming and field sports given the vast swathes of countryside the region boasts.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Gun crime in Devon and Cornwall is not prevalent. And while there are incidents, knife crime is minimal.

“That’s not to say there aren’t violent incidents, but Devon and Cornwall remains one of the safest places to live.”

Across England, there were 777 admissions to hospitals through a firearms wound, of which 150 were under-18 and 17 under-11.

Sharp object or knife wounds accounted for 17,279 admissions, including 2,512 among children and 188 younger than 11.

When a Parliamentary inquiry examined further gun control in 2010 in the wake of Cumbria and Northumberland killings, the National Farmers’ Union said accidents involving legally held guns are “few and far between”.

It went on to say reforms suggested such as keeping ammunition at a separate location “would almost certainly have failed to prevent the tragedies, while seriously hampering a farmer's ability to carry out effective pest control, not to mention that it would be incredibly difficult to police”.

But Gill Marshall-Andrews, chair of the Gun Control Network, said it still remained too easy for the “wrong sort of people” to secure a gun licence.

She said: “Illegal weapons are very, very tightly monitored by the police. But what has not had the similar kind of scrutiny is the legal weapons – and these are the ones being used by multiple murderers.”

The campaign group is calling for the Home Office to increase the charge to apply for a gun licence, which David Cameron has reportedly blocked despite it being unchanged at £50 since 2001 and coming at a cost to police forces.

It argues a hike would help modernise the licensing system, leading to improved gun control.

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