Scotland’s largest shooting organisation has warned of the consequences of the Air Weapons and Licensing Scotland Bill.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has opposed the licensing of airguns from the outset, arguing that it is disproportionate, difficult and costly to implement and does not benefit the public.
Anyone who owns an airgun could unwittingly be committing a criminal act should they fail to obtain a licence after April next year. With over 500,000 airguns estimated to be in circulation across Scotland this could criminalise thousands of people.
Offences involving airguns have plummeted by 73 % from their peak in 2006/07. To put this in context; airguns account for just 0.02 % (11 out of 51,869) of crimes of vandalism, 0.5 % (8 out of 1,499) of robberies and 0.06 % (182 out of 273,053) of all crimes in Scotland.
BASC is deeply concerned about Police Scotland’s capacity to administer the licensing scheme, especially considering the recent reduction of firearms enquiry officers from 34 to 14 and the increasing delays in licensing currently experienced by existing shotgun and firearm certificate holders.
Dr Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland, said: “Airgun shooting is a low-risk, low-cost sport enjoyed by tens of thousands of people across Scotland every day. This new legislation will only affect and inconvenience law-abiding airgun shooters who will now have to apply for an air weapon certificate. Those intent on criminal activity will not come forward.
“The introduction of a licensing scheme that is almost identical to that required for high powered rifles is disproportionate and, as the decreasing numbers of offences show, unnecessary.”
Alan Balfour, BASC Scottish Committee chairman said: “It is bitterly disappointing that the Scottish Government has seen fit to bring in this new law in the face of all the evidence against it. This is a policy that has been driven by tabloid outrage not reason and evidence. Law-abiding shooters will now have to face the bureaucratic administrative nightmare that will be airgun licensing for no public benefit whatsoever.”
For more information please contact Nicolle Hamilton, Press and Policy Officer
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