A child as young as eight has been issued a shotgun licence in Kent, it has been revealed.
The youngster, who was granted the certificate by Kent Police, is among the youngest in the country to have legal access to a shotgun.
The shock figures came to light after a freedom of information request by Sky News to forces in England and Wales.
A child as young as eight has been given a shotgun licence. Library picture
They revealed a total of 670 shotgun licences have been given to under 14s in England and Wales in the past five years.
Some campaigners say it glorifies gun use – while others say it teaches responsibility.
Christine Hall from the Gun Control Network – which campaigns for stricter firearm laws – says: “The danger it poses is the mindset in the child that it’s fun to kill things.
“It seems strange that a child can’t go in a pub and have a pint, but they can have access to a shotgun.”
But Kent Police insists “strict conditions” apply when issuing shotgun and firearms licences.
A spokesman said young people must apply for the licence themselves and have a counter-signatory aged over 21, and anyone under 19 must be supervised at all times when carrying or using a shotgun.
The force also contacts the school attended by the applicant to gain information about their behaviour before issuing a licence.
A total of 22, 573 shotgun licences and 5,473 firearms licences – including one issued to a 15-year-old – are currently held in the county.