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In the United Kingdom, access by the general public to firearms is subject to some of the strictest controls in the world. However, fulfilment of the criteria and requirements as laid out by the laws results in the vast majority of firearm licence applications being approved. Laws differ slightly in Northern Ireland due to Northern Ireland having their own Firearms order. Concerns have been raised over the availability of illegal firearms.Members of the public may own sporting rifles and shotguns, subject to licensing. However, handguns have been banned in Great Britain for most purposes since the Dunblane school massacre in 1996. Handguns are permitted in Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man which have their own legislation. There have only been five mass shootings carried out by a civilian in the entire history of Great Britain, one of which took place in Hungerford on 19 August 1987, one taking place in Monkseaton on 30 April 1989, Dunblane, the Cumbria shootings in June 2010 and a shooting in Plymouth in August 2021.Police in the United Kingdom (aside from Northern Ireland) are not routinely armed. Fatal shootings of police are extremely rare; there were three fatal police shootings in England and Wales in the eleven-year period from 2000/01 to 2010/11. Specially trained armed response units are available to deal with firearms incidents, and as of 31 March 2017 there were 6,278 armed officers serving in territorial police forces in England and Wales.

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