Hundreds of guns, described as the ‘most dangerous’ types of civilian-owned firearms, are legally held in Cumbria, new figures reveal.

Figures from the Home Office show there were 445 section one shotguns in Cumbria in 2019-20 – a three per cent rise on the year before, this was also the highest number since comparable records began in 2015-16.

Covered by firearm certificates, section one shotguns are multi-shot weapons that contain a magazine holding more than two rounds.

The Gun Control Network said it was concerned by the prevalence of the weapons across England and Wales, as well as the legal status of multi-shot shotguns and semi-automatic .22 Calibre rimfire rifles.

Peter Squires, professor emeritus of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton and member of the organisation, said: “Both resemble the types of firearms used in mass shootings around the world, and by virtue of their magazine capacities and rapid-fire potential they represent the most dangerous civilian-owned guns.

"The fact that that they are few in number and little-used makes the case that they are manifestly not part of mainstream UK shooting traditions."

The figures also show there were a total of 12,798 firearms licensed by Cumbria Constabulary last year – two per cent more than the year before and a new record-high.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said certificates are only granted following a rigorous licensing procedure.

Firearms director Bill Harriman said: "The number of section one shotguns held on certificates has not increased significantly and only relates to a small proportion of the total number of legally-held shotguns in England and Wales.

“Our licensing system is among the strictest in the world but is still open to all. BASC works continuously to see the right tone struck so that participants are not disadvantaged but public safety remains acceptable.”

A Home Office spokesman said: "The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.

“Before anyone receives a firearms certificate, the police must be satisfied that the person is fit to possess one and they have powers to revoke certificates if there is a risk to public safety.”