A senior police chief has slammed calls by Ukip leader Nigel Farage for handguns to be legalised, saying it would create a lethal new gun culture in the UK.
Farage claimed the ban on handguns, brought in after the Dunblane Massacre in 1996, is "ludicrous" and believes there is "no link" between legalised guns and gun crime in the UK.
However, police chiefs dismissed Farage's call, warning it would inevitably pass more guns into the hands of criminals.
"We should all be grateful that we have got such tight gun control in this country – when you look at the States, it's awful over there," Manchester police chief constable Peter Fahy told the Manchester Evening News.
"We should be pleased we have had the success we have had.”
Gun crime in Manchester has reduced dramatically since the nineties when the city earned the nickname 'Gunchester'.
However, Farage last week claimed there was "almost no link" between the ban on handguns and the reduction in gun offences.
"There is almost no link between sensible, decent people – under a registration system – holding handguns for sporting and shooting, and crime on the streets," Farage claimed during a walkabout in Manchester.
Asked whether a repeal of the ban would cause gun crime in the city to go back to levels seen in the nineties he replied: "Of course not. Because to qualify to have a handgun you've got to show that you are a responsible person, that you haven't got a record and all the rest of it."
Farage's comments were described as "irresponsible" by one senior police advisor.
"If public safety is a consideration then it’s a particularly stupid thing to say. It opens up the problem that we have almost dealt with successfully," professor of criminology and ACPO firearms adviser Peter Squires said.
"It will generate a demand, it will generate illegal traffic around that demand – the problem with hand guns is that they are small and concealable and they are already the weapon of choice of gangs members and criminals.”
Pushed on the issue, Farage said that repealing the ban on handguns would not be an immediate priority for Ukip.
Deputy leader Paul Nuttall also insisted the party's crime policies were still in development.