A police force has been criticised for taking too long to process applications to renew firearm certificates.
Figures from Hampshire Police show the force took an average of five months to process applications last year and there was a backlog of 13,000 licences.
In comparison, Thames Valley Police took an average of 25 days, Surrey 30 and Wilshire 35 to process their licences.
The figures were released in an FoI request by the BBC.
The delay in renewing the licences led to many gun owners unable to use their guns which had to be stored with registered dealers.
Mike Eveleigh a senior firearms officer with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and a former police firearms officers said: "It's something that horrified us.
"It's very galling for the sporting shooters to see the police on one hand saying we are hard on gun crime - and yet in this particular case allowing people to possess guns without a certificate.
"It's a crime to possess a gun without a certificate and therefore completely wrong for the police to be complicit in that."
Ch Supt Ann Wakefield said between April and December there was an average backlog of 13,000 licences but the public were not put at risk.
The force said extra staff were brought in to clear the backlog and it has since streamlined the process.
Ch Supt Ann Wakefield said: "Last year the backlog of work was enormous.
"We recognised then and we recognise now that it was a very poor service and not what we aim to provide.
"It badly inconvenienced a significant number of certificate holders."
The backlog started in 2011 when there was a peak in the number of renewals, which are carried out every five years.