The weapons surrender, starting on November 20 and lasting ten days, follows a recent change in the law which now makes it illegal for certain people to hold antique weapons and is one of a number organised this year by police forces across the country.
Police believe many people may be affected by the change in legislation and have firearms in the home which have been overlooked or forgotten, or someone could have come into possession of one through family members, or have deactivated weapons or trophies of war.
At the same time police are urging members of the public to hand in any other weapons they hold including knives and offensive weapons.
The initiative aims to avoid weapons getting into the wrong hands and provide members of the community with a safe place to dispose of firearms, ammunition, knives and other weapons they have.
During this period those surrendering firearms, ammunition knives and other offensive weapons will not face prosecution for simply possessing these weapons and they may wish to remain anonymous.
The initiative is being supported by the Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife campaign which aims to bring together anti-knife campaigners across the country to reduce the number of weapons on the streets and make communities safer.
West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle said:
“We have worked hard to reduce gun and knife crime and it remains low in West Yorkshire. 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 into police. It is about preventing injury and harm to members of the public and making them safe and feel safer.
“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.”
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
“I fully support this weapons surrender. 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 and the surrender gives them a perfect opportunity to ensure the weapons are disposed of safely and ensures we are doing all we can to keep our communities safe and preventing potential crimes of the future.”
Throughout the surrender, West Yorkshire Police will work with Royal Armouries, home to the national collection of arms and armour, to help save any important and rare weapons from destruction.
Deputy Master of the Royal Armouries, Dr Thom Richardson, said, “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. As a result, many important weapons, which would otherwise have been destroyed in the past, have been saved for the national collections at the Royal Armouries, Imperial War Museum and National Army Museum, or distributed to local and regimental museums across the UK.”