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1 August 2019, 15:07
A vicar has handed in four starting pistols as part of a nationwide firearms surrender.
The Rev Christopher Parkes, from Burntwood Methodist Church in Birmingham, gave the weapons in after they had been stored in a safe for at least 12 years, West Midlands Police said.
The latest surrender follows the launch of the two-week initiative, which was set up to target illegal holiday souvenir stun guns and pepper sprays bought on the internet, amid concerns about rising gun crime.
Police forces across England and Wales have been giving people the chance to hand over unwanted guns, ammunition and other weaponry in the first such campaign in more than 18 months.
The campaign, co-ordinated by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (Nabis), is being backed by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and other Government agencies.
The vicar decided to participate in the surrender so the guns "don't get into the hands of criminals".
#GUNSURRENDER | Reverend Christopher Parkes from Burntwood Methodist Church has just surrendered four starting pistols which had been in the Church's safe for years. That's another 4 life like guns out of circulation so unable to get into the hands of the wrong people. @NABIS_UK pic.twitter.com/i1y21tHC25— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) August 1, 2019
Mr Parkes said: "We found these starting pistols in our church safe that had been previously used by the drama group.
"They had been there for at least 12 years and unused.
"I heard that there was a surrender taking place in Birmingham for guns and replica guns so we've taken the opportunity to bring these along... so they don't get into the hands of criminals or other people where they can be used for the wrong purposes.
"Taking them off the streets and out of circulation, we thought, was the best thing."
Speaking of the latest firearms surrender by the church, Detective Sergeant Adam Austin said: "We really appreciate what (they) have done here.
"I'd implore anybody else in the community who has similar items in a similar position, where they have been stored away for years and not used, to hand them in to us as part of our surrender.
"These firearms appear really life-like - they can be used for criminal purposes.
"Every firearm handed in is one taken out of circulation - it can't fall into the wrong hands and be used for criminal purposes.
"Our surrender runs until Sunday evening so I would urge anybody who has similar items in a similar position to do exactly the same thing."