Ten-year-olds are among hundreds of youths legally allowed to carry firearms, it’s been revealed.
Hundreds of under-18s, among them children below the age of criminality, have been granted shotgun or firearm licences.
Police forces in Wales have granted 533 such certificates and licences to youths over the last five years.
This is because, despite a strict regulatory regime for firearms, the UK has no lower age limit restrictions.
Plaid Cymru, the Welsh national party, revealed what it regards as a potentially lethal situation in Wales today.
The figures, provided by the four police forces in Wales, were released after Plaid made a Freedom of Information Act request.
The possession of firearms, shotguns, ammunition and explosives by young people is regulated by the Firearms Act 1968-1997.
The little known fact that no minimum age limit applies means the situation in other parts of the UK is likely to be similar to Wales.
Plaid Cymru is calling for a full review of licensing laws for firearms, with particular focus given to a minimum age limit.
Chris Franks, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, said: “Many members of the public will be shocked that children as young as nine have been given shotgun licences.
“While adults do supervise children, accidents can happen, and I want to see action before there is a tragedy, not after.”
He added: “A review of the licensing laws and, in particular, the age limit for licences, is needed.
“There should be restrictions on the sale of air rifles and air pistols which can also be lethal.”
He said the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has called for one licensing system to cover all guns, replacing the current regimes.
It also wants minimum age limits to be considered “with the aim of reducing inconsistency and complexity around the use of firearms by children.”
The figures were provided to Plaid Cymru by North Wales Police, South Wales Police, Gwent Police and Dyfed Powys Police.
They reveal that Dyfed Powys Police has issued by far the largest number of shotgun and firearms certificates, at 318.
That number includes two given to nine year-olds and one each to children aged 10 and 11 – all primary school aged when granted.
The force also revealed a shotgun certificate granted to a 15-year-old was later revoked, although no explanation was given.
North Wales Police issued 71 shotgun certificates to people under the age of 18, the youngest being 11.
Certificates were also granted to two 15-year-olds.
Over the last five years, of those certificates granted before the age of 18 in the North Wales Police area, nine have been revoked.