Shooting and fishing: Without the benefit of any extra legislation airgun crime has dropped 66 per cent
SHOULD we consider the latest ministerial pronouncement on airgun legislation as a victory or a warning of worse to come?
The word “ban” seems to have been removed from the lexicon of government gun law, although you wouldn’t know it to judge from some recent headlines (“Airguns to be banned”). And you have to wonder if Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has been telling his public and press one thing and Parliament another. But, being a politician, he has probably left himself some wiggle room.
The question of a ban on airguns arose in 2005 after the death of toddler Andrew Morton in Easterhouse, Glasgow. Andrew was hit in the head by an airgun pellet fired from a window by drug addict Mark Bonini because he had nothing better to do than take a recreational pot shot at a child.
The minister was photographed with Andrew’s parents earlier this month at a “private meeting” attended by a photographer while assuring them something would be done.
“We couldn’t believe it when the minister told us they were going to ban air weapons from the streets,” said Andy Morton.
“I was more than happy to meet again with the parents of Andrew Morton and to reiterate our promise that we will address the issue of unlicensed airguns,” said Mr MacAskill.
Spot the difference. He did not use the word ban the next day in Parliament but it does now look as if some sort of licensing of new weapons will be introduced.
As for existing airguns, there are an estimated 500,000 in Scotland, so any licensing or registration is going to prove a nightmare for the police. This may not be a problem for those who already have shotgun or firearms certificates. But there are only 73,000 certificate holders in Scotland which, even assuming they all own an airgun, leaves 427,000 guns still to be registered.
But do we need any of it? Without any extra legislation airgun crime has dropped 66 per cent since Andrew Morton’s murder. Of the 11,438 violent crimes committed in Scotland last year, eight involved airguns, which also cropped up in 225 “lesser incidents”. However weapons banned by law were used in 44 robberies, two murders and eight attempted murders. So much for bans. Yet the government is mad keen to wrest firearms legislation from Westminster and make sure no-one is allowed to own more than a spud gun. No-one will be any the safer as a result and, as with the airgun “ban”, legislation will be watered down to the point of pointlessness. I am reminded of the spoof picture of Henry VIII with a bubble coming out of his mouth: “There is no reason, it’s just company policy.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West