The delayed statistics on Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms in Scotland for 2013-14 have now been published. This followed pressure from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) since this information is important for the forthcoming Stage 3 debate on the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill on the 25th June.
The official figures show that airgun crime remains low, at its second lowest level in the ten year period of 2004-2014. This also represents a reduction of 73% from 2006/07 when offences peaked. Overall, airgun offences account for 0.06% of all crimes committed in Scotland. If the Scottish Parliament supports air weapon licensing they will be committing a significant and totally disproportionate amount of police time to the administration of tens of thousands of licence applications.
BASC director Scotland Colin Shedden said,
“Police Scotland is known to be struggling to commit resource to a wide range of criminal activity but will be committed to a significant administrative burden if air weapon licensing is implemented. To put this in context, air weapons accounts for just 11 out of 51,869 (0.02%) crimes of vandalism, 8 out of 1,499 (0.5%) robberies and 182 out of 273,053 (0.06%) crimes in Scotland. There are an estimated 500,000 air weapons in Scotland – only a handful are used in criminal actions.”
BASC Scottish Committee Chairman Alan Balfour said,
“We are pleased to see that crimes involving airguns remain at this very low level accounting for 0.06% of all crime. Airgun shooting is a low risk, low cost sport enjoyed by tens of thousands of people across Scotland every day. The introduction of a licensing scheme identical to that required for high powered rifles is disproportionate and, as these figures show, unnecessary.”
The information has been published in advance of the Stage 3 debate for the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill on the 25th June when, if approved, airgun licences will become a legal requirement for users in Scotland. BASC has been contesting these proposals as there is no evidence to support a licensing scheme following the 73% reduction in airgun crime since 2006/07. There are serious concerns over the ability of Police Scotland to administer such a scheme after the number of firearms enquiry officers is reduced from 34 to 14. There is no public benefit to the proposals as they are not expected bring about a reduction in crime.