Gun control

The most recent set of statistical data on Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms in Scotland for 2013-14 has finally been published.

This follows pressure from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) pushing the government to publish the data in advance of the forthcoming Stage 3 debate on the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill on 25 June.

The bill, if passed, will make it a legal requirement for all airgun owners in Scotland to apply for a licence. The official figures show that airgun crime remains low, at its second-lowest level in the ten-year period of 2004-2014.

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This also represents a reduction of 73 per cent from 2006/07 when offences peaked. To put this in context, air weapons account for just 11 out of 51,869 (0.02 per cent) crimes of vandalism, eight out of 1,499 (0.5 per cent) robberies and 182 out of 273,053 (0.06 per cent) crimes in Scotland. 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.

There are an estimated 500,000 air weapons in Scotland – only a handful are used in criminal actions. If the Scottish Parliament supports air weapon licensing it will be committing a significant and totally disproportionate amount of police time to the administration of tens of thousands of licence applications.

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BASC has been contesting these proposals as there is no evidence to support a licensing scheme following the 73 per cent 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.

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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.

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Nicolle Hamilton

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation

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