Delays of up to nine months in processing firearms licence applications and renewals by Police Scotland have been described as unacceptable by the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
Applications for the grant and renewal of firearm and shotgun licences should be processed within a few weeks but a backlog is building up in Scotland.
Police Scotland is in the process of cutting the number of firearms licensing enquiry officers from 34 to 14. BASC fears this will only increase the delays.
At the same time the Scottish Government is poised to introduce an unnecessary and bureaucratic airgun licensing system which could see the police trying to deal with a deluge of thousands of applications from lawful airgun owners. It is estimated that are up to half a million airguns in Scotland.
BASC believes the licensing of airguns in Scotland is unnecessary because airgun crime has fallen by 75% over the six years up to 2013, the last year of published crime figures.
Nicolle Hamilton of BASC Scotland said: “It is unacceptable that such delays have crept into the system and unbelievable that Police Scotland has chosen to slash the number of enquiry officers at a time of high demand. On top of that, the Scottish Government seems intent on introducing a licensing system for airguns which will see their workload increase dramatically.
“The Scottish Government is ignoring the facts, ignoring the evidence and is threatening to impose a wholly unnecessary new burden on the police which will do nothing to cut airgun crime, which is falling, or to protect public safety. Only the law-abiding will apply for an airgun licence. Those intent on criminal misuse will not be deterred by the need for a piece of paper. Meanwhile those who need a licence for their rifles and shotguns are already suffering long and unacceptable delays.
“The Scottish Parliament has an opportunity to say no to airgun licensing on Thursday during a Stage One debate on the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill. We call on MSPs to consider the evidence and say no to airgun licensing.”
Notes to editors
• There are over 75,000 shotgun and firearms certificates on issue in Scotland
• Shooting is worth £200 million to the Scottish economy each year
• Country sports tourism is worth £155 million to the Scottish economy each year
For more information please contact Nicolle Hamilton on 01244 573052 or 07792 235343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org