FOLLOWING gun shots being fired in Bolton earlier this week, The Bolton News can now reveal how many people legally have access to guns in the area.

The incident in Hilden Street, The Haulgh, on Monday is just the latest in a string of firearms offences in the borough this year.

It is not believed that anyone was hurt in Monday’s incident but in May, a 12-year-old boy was shot in the knee with an air rifle, while he was playing football in the town centre.

In July, a man was also shot in a “targeted” attack in broad daylight in an industrial estate car park, in Great Lever.

According to latest government figures, more than 8,000 people hold certificates legally allowing them to own guns in Greater Manchester.

The statistics show that a total of 8,136 firearm and shotgun certificates were held across the area, as of March 31, 2019. The number is down from 8,214 in March 2018.

The 8,136 firearm and shotgun certificates have allowed 28,143 firearms to be bought by people in Greater Manchester — an average of more than three per person.

A range of different types of weapons are included in the figures. Shotguns make up the bulk of the figures with 18,081 registered to people. In addition, there are 6,344 rifles, 317 regular handguns, and 288 muzzle-loading handguns — which are loaded from the front of the gun.

Sound moderators such as silencers are installed on 2,604 of the weapons.

The figures do not include prohibited weapons, or any gun held illegally without a licence.

Last month, more than 200 guns were handed in to Greater Manchester Police during a two-week long firearm surrender.

Detective Inspector Jacqueline Daniels of GMP’s Firearms Licensing Unit said: “The overarching consideration is to protect public safety and the peace, and therefore the applicant must be suitable to possess a shotgun or be entrusted with a firearm. We carry out rigorous checks in relation to each application that we receive, including background and criminal checks, and visits and interviews with every family.”