MacAskill vows to raise concerns over Scotland's 500,000 air weapons

MORE than 500,000 air weapons are in circulation in Scotland, a firearms summit heard yesterday.

The figure emerged at a discussion between politicians, police, campaigners and other experts on ways to tackle firearm crimes.

The summit, chaired by Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, led to unanimous calls for the UK government to have a fresh look at firearms legislation, which was described as "a guddle" and "not fit for purpose".

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Mr MacAskill said he would write to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, voicing their concerns over existing gun laws.

He also said he would offer Scotland as a "pilot" for future initiatives, possibly including a licensing scheme for airguns.

Mr MacAskill said: "What is quite clear is that the current legislation we have is inadequate.

I'll be seeking to make it clear to Jacqui Smith that the view of Scotland is that the current legislation doesn't properly protect our communities."

Recorded firearms casualties in Scotland rose by a quarter in 2006-7 – one in three of the victims were children and 58 per cent of the incidents involved air weapons. Cases of attempted murder involving firearms were almost three times that of a decade ago.

Bill Aitken, the Conservatives' justice spokesman who attended the summit, said he was "absolutely astounded" by the estimate that there were 500,000 air weapons in Scotland.