Government figures offer insight into the extent of Yorkshire’s gun ownership

An investigation by the Press Association has revealed that Yorkshire holds a disproportionately high number of a certain type of high-powered firearm, compared to other parts of the UK.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 8:37 am
More than 2,000 ‘Section 1’ shotguns - defined by the Home Office as ‘weapons that contain a magazine holding more than two rounds’ - are legally held across Yorkshire and the Humber. Photo: Getty Images

According to Government figures, more than 2,000 ‘Section 1’ shotguns – defined by the Home Office as ‘weapons that contain a magazine holding more than two rounds’ - are legally held across Yorkshire and the Humber.

Figures show that North Yorkshire – a sparsely populated but highly rural community – currently has 1,115 registered keepers of Section 1 shotguns, a one per cent increase on the previous year.

There were also 433 such weapons being held legally in Humberside, 319 in South Yorkshire and 309 in West Yorkshire, according to those same figures, meaning there are 2,176 held across Yorkshire and the Humber.

In total, figures show that 59,259 weapons were licensed by the four Yorkshire police forces last year, of which 23,797 were by North Yorkshire Police. The majority of these were rifles, commonly used for shooting, while 1,338 were handguns.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said it was unsurprising that such a large swathe of rural Britain should require these types of firearms.

The spokesman said: “Licensed firearms ownership tends to be prevalent in rural areas where they are used to manage the land and where more people work in rural occupations. These areas are more sparsely populated. North Yorkshire is a vast rural county with a high number of farms and some very large rural estates.

“The ownership of such firearms is closely regulated and controlled and the level of firearms offences in the county is extremely low.”

However, some groups continue to express concerns about the prevalence of some types of firearms held in the UK. The Gun Control Network said it is specifically concerned by the legal status of multi-shot shotguns and semi-automatic .22 Calibre rimfire rifles.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said certificates are only granted following a rigorous licensing procedure.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.”