Owners of antique guns were today warned they may be breaking the law as police announced a weapons amnesty at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
Changes to legislation mean that some people who were previously entitled to possess certain firearms could now be committing an offence.
West Yorkshire Police, along with other forces, is giving people the chance to hand over guns and other weapons as part of a 10-day “weapons surrender” starting tomorrow. Those who do so will not face prosecution.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle said: “We take firearms offences very seriously and don’t want people to fall foul of the law by keeping hold of these weapons.
“This is not in response to any particular incidents in West Yorkshire but reflects the change in the law and gives people the opportunity to safely bring them in to police. It is about preventing injury and harm to members of the public and making them safe.
“We would urge members of the public to hand in any weapons at their local police station. Failure to do so would be a serious matter and could lead to some very serious charges.”
Thom Richardson, deputy master of the Royal Armouries, said the initiative could help preserve important artefacts.
“We have worked with the police for the past 20 years and we are delighted to be able to offer our expertise in this way,” he said. “As a result, many important weapons, which would otherwise have been destroyed in the past, have been saved.”
The amnesty is being supported by the Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife campaign, a coalition of anti-knife campaigners across the country.
Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “It is reassuring to know that gun and knife crime remains low across the county, but I would urge people to take advantage of this surrender to hand in weapons they have that may be illegal. Because of the changes they could now unknowingly be breaking the law by possessing such weapons.”