Policy misfire

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Scottish Government plans to introduce a licensing system for the estimated 500,000 airguns in Scotland will be a costly and bureaucratic mistake (your report, 16 May). The move flies in the face of the evidence, ignores the public consultation and will produce bad policy, bad regulation and bad government.

Up to 500,000 people, perhaps with an old airgun in the attic, could be criminalised at a stroke. The police will have to find time and money to process thousands of licence applications, which could put at risk other activities critical to protecting public safety.

The government’s own public consultation returned an overwhelming majority (87 per cent) against the introduction of licensing. The evidence shows a 75 per cent fall in airgun crime in the past six years. Both are being wilfully ignored by the government.

Good policy, good regulation and good government are based firmly on following evidence, listening to opinion and making informed choices on the allocation of limited resources. This policy fails on all counts.

However, our elected politicians still have time to listen to reason and consider the evidence. As the economist John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said: “When the facts change, I change my mind.”

Dr Colin B Shedden

Director Scotland,

British Association for Shooting and Conservation

A LICENSING system for airguns – has our justice secretary Kenny MacAskill gone mad? Our homes and garages are full of potentially lethal weapons and yet we don’t license them. For example, you are at far greater danger of death or serious harm from a kitchen knife or a baseball bat than from an airgun.

Everything we do carries some risk, but we go about our daily business because we have a sense of proportion about the size of the risks involved.

In a free country, the people are trusted by the government. In an unfree one, everything is licensed, regulated, banned or kept under lock and key. Once we have the world’s harshest regime of licensing of airguns, what next? Should sgian dubhs be licensed?

The licensing of airguns is a symptom both of a safety culture gone mad and of the SNP’s authoritarian instincts. This proposed legislation should be opposed for our sanity and our freedom.

Otto Inglis

Inveralmond Grove

Edinburgh

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