BASC gives evidence at Scottish firearms licensing inquiry

BASC has provided a parliamentary committee with the facts on firearms licensing. BASC emphasised that the current legislation protects public safety and provides excellent service to the Scottish shooting community.

Dr Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director, provided oral evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into firearms licensing regulation.

The inquiry took place following calls to review firearms licensing regulations following the recent tragedy on the Isle of Skye.

During the session, Dr Shedden, alongside Fraser Lamb of the Scottish Association of Country Sports, told MPs that the legislation around firearms licensing is both proportionate and fair.

Reiterated throughout the session was the need for all parties in the licensing process, including GPs, to have statutory obligations and that this should apply in England, Wales and Scotland.

The current five-year lifespan of certificates was raised by some organisations during the committee session, who claimed that this should be reduced to two or three years. In written evidence, BASC highlighted that the given examples of Belgium and Brazil may have shorter renewal periods, but yet have considerably higher firearms homicide rates than the UK.

Dr Shedden also addressed calls from organisations to increase firearms licensing fees, stating it would prevent a substantial number of people from legitimately participating in recreational shooting. 

Shooting contributes £2bn a year to the UK economy and provides a vital income stream for a myriad of rural, retail and hospitality businesses.

Summing up, Dr Shedden said: “BASC is wholly supportive of an efficient, cost-effective, robust system of firearms licensing that protects public safety and provides excellent service to the shooting community.

Reducing the term of certificates to two or three years, as some have suggested, would place an additional and unnecessary burden on the police and serve no useful purpose.

“We feel the system and the legislation in place just now is more than adequate and sufficient for protecting the needs of public safety.”

The inquiry will now move to receiving evidence from Police Scotland, before making recommendations to be taken forward by MPs.

The oral evidence session can be watched in full here.