The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has restated its opposition to the proposed devolution of airgun legislation to Scotland.
The UK Government has put forward a proposal to devolve powers over low-powered airguns to Scotland in the Scotland Bill. The plans could give Scotland the power to licence or prohibit low-powered airguns.
BASC believes the proposals are unnecessary, especially at a time when airgun crime in Scotland is falling and will be lobbying MPs and MSPs on the issue.
Figures released in October 2010 show airgun crime in Scotland has fallen by 26 per cent since 2007/2008. BASC believes education and enforcement of existing legislation are the best ways to address any perceived problem.
Tight restrictions are already in place on airgun ownership and use. People cannot buy airguns until they are 18 and they can only be bought from Registered Firearms Dealers.
The proposal to devolve airgun law to Scotland originated in the Calman Commission recommendations which showed nothing more than an “appetite to deal with air weapons differently” to support the recommendations.
BASC’s policy has always been to oppose the separation of power over Great Britain’s firearms laws which have already suffered from piecemeal and often illogical amendment, a point stressed in evidence to the current Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into firearms law.
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “We do not support devolution of any firearms function to Holyrood. On that basis we particularly do not support the devolution of legislation of one type of firearm to Holyrood and the retention of the others to Westminster.
“Whatever changes are made will be largely unenforceable and unpoliceable due to a lack of land border controls.”
If this part of the Scotland Bill does become law, BASC Scotland will work to protect the interests of all legitimate shooters.
The legislation outlined in the Bill covers low-powered air guns only. Legislation covering more powerful airguns which require a firearms certificate would remain in the hands of the UK Government if the Bill is passed.