BASC is campaigning for ScotRail to reverse a firearms ban the UK’s largest shooting organisation believes will damage Scotland’s rural tourism industry.
The rail operator has announced that the carriage of all firearms on it services is now prohibited despite the National Rail Conditions of Travel allowing authorised passengers to transport firearms on trains.
With the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ start of the shooting season just weeks away, BASC believes ScotRail’s decision will have a significant negative impact on Scotland’s status as an internationally renowned sporting destination.
BASC chairman Peter Glenser has written to Scotland’s Secretary for Tourism, Fiona Hyslop MSP, and the Secretary for Rural Affairs, Fergus Ewing MSP, to outline the association’s concerns.
Mr Glenser has also written to ScotRail’s chief executive, Alex Hynes, to request that rather than impose a punitive outright ban, the operator adheres to national guidelines which allow a certificate holder to lawfully transport an unloaded gun with a train company’s permission.
Mr Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms law, said: “ScotRail has imposed a ban which will damage Scotland’s reputation as an iconic fieldsports destination.
“ScotRail claims it is Scotland’s railway but it is striking at the heart of rural businesses and communities which rely on the estimated £155 million injected each year into the country’s economy by country sports tourism.
“BASC understands that this outright ban is a result of a single incident of a shotgun being left on a train. Considering the millions of miles travelled safely with shotguns and firearms each year, this decision looks like a disproportionate, knee-jerk response.
“Individuals travelling with firearms in the UK are regulated and authorised by the police following rigorous background checks. In fact the UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.
“Responsibilty for safe transportation of a firearm lies solely with a certificate holder and they take that responsibility seriously. The UK has a fine track record for firearm safety.
“We would urge ScotRail to change their policy before the start of the shooting season to avoid travel disruption and to protect Scotland’s rural economy.
“As the UK’s largest shooting organisation, we are happy to meet ScotRail to discuss their concerns about passengers lawfully transporting guns on their trains.”
One of Scotland’s leading tourism groups has backed BASC’s campaign to reverse ScotRail’s ban.
Andrew Grainger, project manager for Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group, said: “This announcement from ScotRail is of concern as it may have immediate consequences for tourists with bookings to travel to Scotland for the grouse shooting season, which is only weeks away.
“By introducing unnecessary barriers to travel, the impact may be felt across rural tourism businesses which rely on the country sports visitor for their income.”
The National Rail Conditions of Travel, which operate throughout the UK, allow for the carriage of ‘unloaded firearms, properly licenced, with prior permission of the train company and carried in accordance with the law and any other specific instructions’.
Section 19 of the 1968 Firearms Act allows certificate holders to possess firearms in public if they have a reasonable excuse – such as transporting them to and from shooting events.