A series of proposed amendments to the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill should be seriously considered by all members of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee when the Bill reaches its scrutiny and amendment stage in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday – that’s the opinion of the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), which remains firmly opposed to the Bill.
The Bill begins its Stage Two consideration and scrutiny by the committee in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 13 May – and the BASC has been working to help develop amendments which might make the proposed legislation more workable for the police and for people who regularly shoot airguns in Scotland.
The BASC believes there is no evidence that a licensing system will do anything to cut crime or protect public safety. The use of airguns is already heavily regulated by law and airgun crime in Scotland has fallen by 75 per cent in recent years.
Additionally, the BASC believes the proposed licensing system will do nothing to deter those intent on criminal misuse of airguns. It will, however add an administrative burden to Police Scotland which has recently announced it is cutting its firearms licensing enquiry officers from 34 to 14 despite long delays building up in the existing licensing system.
So, the BASC has helped to develop amendments which would either allow existing shotgun and firearm certificate holders to automatically be granted an airgun certificate or remove the need for them to have another certificate altogether.
There are also amendments to bring certificates of 14 to 17 year-olds in line with other certificates in terms of duration and permitted use, such as pest control, along with a number of minor technical amendments.
Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland, said: “We believe this Bill is unnecessary and unjustified. It failed to gain all-party support during at Stage One. However, given the Bill’s progress through the Scottish Parliament, we have worked closely with MSPs on these common-sense amendments.
“Airguns are an important element of shooting in Scotland. They bring us sporting success in target shooting competitions and are an everyday tool for pest control, particularly in situations where more powerful firearms are unsuitable.
“The amendments would reduce the extra burden this Bill represents for both the police and for those who regularly use airguns in Scotland. We hope that Committee members will take the time to carefully consider them.”