Gun amnesties allow gun owners to turn weapons, illegal or legal, into the police without fear of being penalized. Several nations have established this practice, including Canada and Australia. From May 12th until May 29th 2022, England, Wales and Scotland sponsored amnesties, and the turnout was, according to UK police, very successful. It was Britain’s first amnesty since 2019.
In Leicestershire, one gun of particular note that was turned in was a German World War Two dated 9mm Luger. The iconic handguns were prized by all German soldiers be they officers, NCOs or privates and were always praised for their high manufacturing standards and reliability.
Today, any movie depicting the Second World War depicts Nazis carrying Lugers. Even those of us who are not gun enthusiasts will recognize the Luger as they often form part of many a museum display of war memorabilia or even a ‘must have weapon of choice’ on many computer games such as Call of Duty.
Although the Luger predates even World War One and stopped becoming the German Army’s sidearm of choice in 1938, being replaced by the even more reliable P38, it was still manufactured up until late 1943 with over 3 million being made. At the end of the war, Soviet soldiers took possession of thousands of German Lugers, as many as 8,000, by some estimates. Some Luftwaffe pilots carried them as a side arm.
Because gun amnesties only succeed if people are able to turn weapons in anonymously, police in Leicestershire don’t know who owned the Luger. It was one of 74 guns turned in during the two-week period, along with shotguns, revolvers, and even air rifles and pistols.
The amnesty was held in many places in England. Locations included Northumberland and Luton, to name only two. Police forces right across the country announced that the amnesty was a huge success, meaning many illegal and dangerous weapons won’t fall into the hands of criminals.
The guns and ammunition, if not needed as evidence for an ongoing investigation or cold case, are destroyed. Occasionally, if a weapon is turned in that’s of historic value – like the Luger – it may be turned over to a museum that specializes in war exhibits.
Gun amnesties were established in Britain by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS). According to chief inspector Cara Guest-Moore, the goal is giving citizens the opportunity to get rid of guns they may no longer use or need.
Some people find guns when clearing out a parent’s home, for example, or find an old hunting rifle or shotgun they have no use for. And of course, ridding the public sphere of as many weapons as possible helps prevent them from falling into the hands of felons. “Taking just one weapon off the street,” said Guest-Moore, “means that there is one less that can fall into the wrong hands or be used to harm or threaten our communities.”
Superintendent David Pickett of Northumberland Police acknowledged that gun violence is “rare” in his community, for which he is grateful. Nonetheless, he said that a gun amnesty is “still important,” as it gets guns out of the wrong hands.
Read More: Rare Fighter Plane Found In Italy
According to the National Crime Agency in England, the country has a relatively low number of illegal guns. Those that are seized are usually found in the possession of urban gangs, drug dealers and other criminals.
Automatic weapons seizures are “rare,” according to the agency’s website. Certainly in comparison to some European nations and especially the United States, the U.K.’s problem with illegal weapons is manageable.
But officials want the country to do even better, and hence the gun amnesties are held every year or two. It gives citizens the chance to reconsider gun ownership, safety regulations, and other things that influence their decision to own and store guns.
Read More: Point du Hoc – The Lost Battlefield
Someone who was once an avid hunter may no longer need a weapon if they’ve given up this sport. So why keep a gun? That is the kind of thinking police hope occurs when they sponsor gun amnesties.
No country can eliminate the problem of illegal guns entirely. They flood across borders, smuggled in by criminals intent on using them to commit crimes.
It can seem like an insurmountable problem to authorities, but small steps – like the amnesty held in May – can have a huge impact on the flow of illegal weapons and, in the case of the Luger, bring historical weapons to the masses to be viewed safely.