A report supporting legislation to introduce airgun licensing in Scotland has been challenged by the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
The Local Government and Regeneration Committee’s stage one report on the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill supports the introduction of a licensing system despite hearing evidence that the Bill will do little or nothing to deal with the problem of criminal misuse of airguns, while adding costs and bureaucracy to Police Scotland’s firearms licensing system.
Airgun crime in Scotland is at its lowest level since records began and has been falling for some time. This was pointed out to the committee by BASC Scotland and other shooting interests.
Dr Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland said: “The Committee’s report shows a very disjointed approach. It acknowledges that offences with air weapons in Scotland are at their lowest level since records began, yet still supports the introduction of a licensing system.”
“BASC believes the licensing system is unnecessary, unwieldy, unwanted and unwarranted. It also fails to meet the Principles of Better Regulation, to which the Scottish Government and all of the main political parties in the Scottish Parliament are committed. The principles state that regulation should be proportionate, consistent, accountable, transparent and targeted, but the proposed legislation falls far short of these principles. BASC believes the proposed legislation is not targeted at the small problem of criminal misuse of airguns. A licensing system will only be subscribed to by law-abiding airgun owners and will make no difference to those intent on breaking the law.”
“It is also not proportionate because the criminal misuse of airguns is already covered by existing legislation. Under the law any offence committed with an airgun is treated as seriously as any firearms offence.”
“The Committee has recognised that Police Scotland does not have the staff resources to deal with the peaks and troughs associated with sudden introduction of a five year licence. Its suggestion that the police could vary the initial duration of licences is fudging the issue and fails to address the problem”
“The Committee has also suggested that the Government should consider the retrospective inclusion of an identifier mark – or serial number – for over 500,000 airguns. This would constitute an even greater waste of valuable police time, prove to be an administrative nightmare and an additional cost to law-abiding shooters.”
For more information please call Dr Colin Shedden on 07770 990 222 or the BASC press office on 01244 573052