Weapons Surrender Launched In West Yorkshire
22nd February 2017
Gun crime victim Christopher Wright is backing West Yorkshire Police's latest campaign to remove guns and knives from the county's streets.
The weapons surrender, starting today (Wednesday February 22) until Saturday March 4, involves police urging members of the public to hand in any 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 them. Police are also asking for information about people suspected of having illegal weapons.
Father-of-three Christopher Wright knows only too well the devastating impact of gun crime. He was left fighting for his life after being gunned down on the doorstep of his Leeds home in April 2010. He spent weeks in intensive care at hospital and lost his business and almost his family home
He said: "Our lives were devastated by what happened and I would not want that to happen to any other family. I would support any effort to get guns off the streets - I feel lucky but other people have had their lives devastated by gun crime. I wouldn't want what happened to us to happen to another family. People shouldn't carry guns and I would urge them to support the weapons surrender."
During the campaign 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.
It has proved a success in recent years and is part of a package of measures aimed at reducing gun and knife crime across the county. Last year a huge haul was handed in including 150 bladed and offensive weapons and 80 guns.
As part of this year's campaign, West Yorkshire Police is also keen to hear from anyone who may have information about the illegal possession of firearms including ammunition and are seeking help to identify so-called 'safe' houses where they may be held.
New legislation also means that there is potentially a large number of previously deactivated guns that do not meet new standards. While these guns may be legally held, they cannot now be legally sold or given away. West Yorkshire Police is encouraging owners of such unwanted guns to hand them in during the course of the campaign.
West Yorkshire Police Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: "We want to remove weapons so they don't end up in the wrong hands on the streets of West Yorkshire causing injury to someone or even worse.
"Incidents involving the reported use of weapons are treated very seriously and West Yorkshire Police is committed to reducing these to ensure that people who live, work and visit the county remain safe.
"We want to remove those who involve themselves in the illegal use of weapons from our local communities and it is important that we continue to work with communities and partners to identify, arrest and convict anyone who is involved in crime."
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "I would like to place on record my thanks to Christopher Wright, I can't begin to imagine what he has been through and to step into the spotlight to support this campaign shows true courage in highlighting the devastation that both gun and knife crime can cause of which we are only too well aware through recent events.
"It's very important to run weapons surrenders periodically to support changes in the law and to give people an opportunity to hand in illegal or dangerous weapons and ammunition anonymously or otherwise which eliminates the chance of them ever falling in to the wrong hands and preventing serious harm in the future.
"By taking part in this weapons surrender you could literally be saving lives. I would urge anyone with illegal/dangerous weapons or ammunition to please come forward and dispose of them safely and with any other relevant information to contact the police in helping to make West Yorkshire safer."
West Yorkshire Police will also be contacting the county's licensed firearms holders asking them to check that their weapons continue to be held legally.
ACC Williams added: "There are a high number of responsible licensed firearms holders. During the last few years there have been several changes to the law and people need to assess whether these changes have an impact on themselves."
Dr Edward Impey, Director General and Master of the Armouries, said: "The Royal Armouries recognises the importance of this annual initiative by the West Yorkshire Police and we are delighted to offer expertise and support for this year's campaign."
Christopher Wright, aged 57, was watching TV with his wife Denise on April 6, 2010, when he answered a knock at the door of his Leeds home.
Standing in the doorway was an armed man who immediately fired a shotgun at him at close range. It was the start of a nightmare which saw Mr Wright rushed to hospital with devastating injuries to his abdomen. He lay in a coma for five days.
Mr Wright said: "My family were told that I was not going to make it. When I came round I was in incredible pain. I couldn't eat, drink, walk or talk.
"I had half expected someone turning up at our house because my son had been involved in an incident earlier in the evening. He had smashed the window of a car in a row involving a girl - but I didn't expect anything like that.
Mr Wright spent six weeks in Leeds General Infirmary where he underwent a series of operations. "I was really aware of the impact this was having on my family and the anguish it was causing to them. I was unable to work for more than three years, I lost my business and we nearly lost our house a number of times.
His recovery has taken years as he "Our lives were completely turned upside down - it was terrible being unable to provide for my family through no fault of my own."
Mr Wright continues to be affected by the trauma, undergoing a serious operation last year, but he is back at work and feels lucky to be alive. "I am a positive person and I feel very lucky, but someone else might not be as lucky as me - someone will lose their son, dad, brother or husband.
*A 26-year-old Leeds man was later convicted of the attempted murder of Mr Wright and was jailed for a life with a minimum sentence of 17 years.
Policing and Crime Act 2017
A deactivated firearm is something that was a real firearm but has been altered in such a way as to make it incapable of discharging a shot, bullet, or other missile. Such guns can be bought legally without a firearms certificate if properly deactivated. To be considered legally deactivated the firearm must bear a deactivation mark applied by the proof house, who will also issue a deactivation certificate.
New legislation under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduces an offence of selling or gifting a deactivated firearm that has not been deactivated to the new EU standards introduced in April 2016. The penalty for this offence is imprisonment for up to five years, a fine or to both.
There is a comprehensive set of deactivation standards not previously required by UK law, but now applicable, not only in the UK, but across the EU. For example magazines must be pinned and welded in place or the empty magazine housings must be permanently blocked with spots of weld to prevent the insertion of a magazine.
Anyone with information about the illegal possession or use of firearms should contact West Yorkshire Police on 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
For a full list of police stations taking part in the surrender visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk