Plans to hand over control of airguns in Scotland from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament have been branded as unworkable and unnecessary by the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
Demands for this devolution of power, made by the SNP government and the Calman Commission, have so far been resisted by the Home Office but press reports indicate that a deal to pass over authority on airguns has been reached. However, it is unlikely to be before the next election.
Dr Colin Shedden, Director of BASC Scotland said: "Scottish government figures show that airgun offences have halved over the last 12 years – down from 1 150 in 1995-6 to 567 in 2007-08. Politics aside, the practical difficulties of devolving control over airguns have been repeatedly highlighted by BASC and the dramatic reduction of offences and incidents involving airguns asks the question whether such radical change is actually required”.
BASC will be writing to David Cameron and other party leaders seeking immediate assurances that this unnecessary move will not take place after the election. Airgun use is already well regulated by law. Claiming that this transfer of authority will lead to a ban on airguns in Scotland is simplistic. There are an estimated 500,000 airguns in Scotland and six million in the UK. Recognition has to be given to their importance in safe and effective pest control and target shooting. Airgun shooting will play an important role in the forthcoming Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
Dr Shedden said: “The last thing that either the police or the shooting and rural community needs is more complex legislation or licensing. What has proven effective over the last two years has been the police enforcing existing legislation and the Scottish Government, working with the shooting community, educating young people and their parents of their responsibilities with respect to airguns."
"In 1997 handguns and revolvers were effectively banned in Scotland, but last year the numbers of offences involving such firearms rose to a record of 130. Scottish Police Forces would be better deployed in addressing this serious matter rather than being forced into totally unnecessary licensing bureaucracy for airguns."