Airgun licensing in Scotland is impractical and will not improve public safety – that’s according to representative bodies for police and lawyers in Scotland, and the Scotland arm of the BASC, Britain’s largest shooting organisation. They claim that proposals outlined in the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill are described as unaffordable and unlikely to work.
The Law Society of Scotland says that the proposed air weapons licensing scheme is impractical and will not achieve the desired effect of reducing airgun crime. In written evidence to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, the society questioned whether licensing would produce any benefit to public safety and crime reduction.
It also said it could result in airguns falling into the wrong hands and suggested that adding specific conditions to the proposed airgun licence could have unintended consequence and discourage people from applying for a certificate.
The Scottish Police Federation has similar concerns and said that the police service would struggle to deal with the additional demand without additional resources.
BASC Scotland’s assessment of the Bill questioned the public safety benefit from airgun licensing. BASC agreed with the Law Society that many aspects of the Bill could result in airguns falling into the wrong hands. BASC Scotland also anticipates an increase in recorded offences compared with a 70% decrease in offences over the past five years.
Alan Balfour, chairman of BASC’s Scottish Committee, said: “When you see evidence from the Law Society, the Scottish Police Federation and BASC Scotland that all leads to the same conclusion – that licensing is impractical and will not enhance public safety – you must ask who could continue to support it.”
Dr Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland, said: “The evidence from lawyers, the police and from people who shoot is that they have all come to the conclusion that the proposals are impractical, unaffordable and unlikely to work.
“In fact, the unintended consequences of the proposed legislation are likely to increase the level of airgun offences in Scotland while doing little or nothing to prevent criminal misuse. After all, those who abuse airguns will not be applying for a licence!”
[Editor’s Note:] In Scotland alone, shooting supports almost 9,000 full-time jobs. It also generates £200 million for the Scottish economy – but here’s a really interesting statistic: there are almost 74,000 shotgun and firearms certificates issued in Scotland, yet it’s estimated there are some 500,000 airguns in circulation. Clearly, airgunners represent the shooting majority north of the border!