After delay in being released: Scottish airgun stats reveal stark truth

Airgun crime in Scotland - just 0.06% of overall crime in 2013/14

Airgun crime in Scotland – just 0.06% of overall crime in 2013/14

Following pressure from the BASC, the delayed statistics on Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms in Scotland for 2013-14 have now been published.  The 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 2014-2104. 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.

So, 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, eight 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.

Well-known airgun authority Nigel Allen is the editor of Britain's award-winning shooting magazine, Airgun Shooter (available worldwide). Email:

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9 comments on “After delay in being released: Scottish airgun stats reveal stark truth
  1. Frank Petronio says:

    Wow talk about a nanny state micromanaging its citizens.

  2. Nigel Curtis says:

    It would be a ridiculous waste of resources if airgun licencing was introduced in Scotland and not sustainable in any way. I am and have been an a-rifle user for 40 years and shot for GB at air rifle Field Target in 91, 92, 93, winning 3 world championships. I also wrote for Sporting Air Rifle magazine in the mid-1980’s.
    The level of airgun involvement in crime is so low as to be non-material and if they licence airguns they would also be likely to need to licence kitchen knives and baseball bats!
    This should not be taken ahead by the authorities.

    • The Editor says:

      Hi Nige – and well I remember you! Are you still north of the Border, and still got your airguns?

      Sadly, while what you say makes utter common sense, this legislation is being steamrollered through Holyrood in the most undemocratic way. If you’ve been following the situation as it unfolds over the past couple of years in Airgun Shooter, you’ll realise that no matter what the ‘true’ situation is, Kenneth MacAskill’s proposals were put forward on emotive grounds, and will be implemented regardless of the true situation. It’s disgusting – and (for me, at least) makes rather a mockery of that thing we pride ourselves of having: democracy. How anyone can say airgun licensing is in the interests of public safety when the evidence points to the polar opposite beggars belief. That, I’m afraid, is politics for you…

      • Dan Parker says:

        What exactly do they propose to do with the thousands of people in Scotland who already own an airgun, especially the ones with them tucked away forgotten about in the attic? Will this flood England with cheap secondhand air rifles?

  3. tinbum says:

    500,000 air rifles and 14 FEO’s? At two hours per licence application (travel, home visit, paperwork) that will take just under 45 years.
    You’d laugh if it wasn’t so tragic.

  4. Yip yap says:

    Nanny state. This is gun law going mad. No matter what laws you impose on law abiding citizens the criminals will continue to commit offences!!! Ps 14 FEO’s in Scotland? No sure where they got that number but it is total garbage. Our local office alone (one of the smallest in Scotland) has double figure FEO’s.

  5. 42nd says:

    What next Bow’s, hunting/bushcraft knives…big sticks ???????

  6. Alan Withers says:

    No wonder the criminals are laughing at the Law !
    I can see no point in this other than turning law abiding citizens into criminals, so that they can be arrested, tried and FINED, or imprisoned at great cost, in order to boost the statistics.
    The banning of licenced hand guns did nothing to reduce the use of guns by criminals !
    This law has no benefit to the community, and therefore can only be for political purposes. The cost of administration, and compensation to currently legal airgun owners would be in the high millions, not to mention the damage to businesses.
    Anyone who would contemplate this much damage and disruption purely for political reasons has no business being in a position of power, in fact, would be better imprisoned for the benefit of the community, before they can think up another crazy scheme.

  7. Border boy says:

    14 full time support staff FEO’s is right. As of 31st August 2015 the rest are redundant (or redeployed and pushed into other jobs in the Police they don’t want to do). The rest are cops, not their fault – they’ve been ordered to do it, even though most do not know one end of a gun from the other. They will be doing it IN ADDITION to their normal duties. Yes, that’s right – even though you can’t get one when you need one, they’ll have to fit Firearms Licensing Enquiries in as well. They’ve been sent on a three day training course which, was a total waste of time – they are all up in arms about it – three days is not enough to learn the basic legislation let alone all the different kinds of shotguns/firearms and ammunition, and how to handle them. Oh, and how to do all the other things an FEO deals with – extended reports on certificate holders etc. they have been told that 5 hours is what they’re allowed for a renewal enquiry – grants often take longer. Now, 60 odd thousand certificate holders in Scotland – multiply by 5 hours, Just for renewals…….. Over 5 years, hmmmmmm where are they going to fit all the Air gun grant enquiries in…… All at the same time of course, as though the renewal dates will be staggered, the grant dates won’t……….

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