Category Archives: No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland

MSP Email Addresses (12th January 2016)

MSP Email Addresses

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Scotland – Air Weapons and Licensing (S) Bill

Marshalled List of Amendments, and Groupings for debate, for Stage 2 consideration of the Air Weapons and Licensing (S) Bill by the Local Government and Regeneration Committee at its meeting on Wednesday 13 May 2015.

1stList

1stGroupings

What is the Marshalled List?

The Marshalled List is a list of all of the amendments lodged to the Bill by MSPs. Amendments are shown in the order in which they seek to amend the Bill (starting at Section 1 and working through the Bill). This is also the order in which the Committee will decide on each amendment. Amendments are numbered chronologically in the order in which they were lodged by MSPs with the clerks.

This explains why sometimes amendments with a higher number may appear higher up the Marshalled List than those with a lower number. For example – if say Amendment 15 had proposed to amend Section 62 of the Bill, and Amendment 25 had proposed to amend Section 45 of the Bill, then Amendment 25 would appear before Amendment 15 on the Marshalled List (as Section 45 comes before Section 62 in the Bill). Therefore, the order of amendments on the Marshalled List is not determined by the number of each amendment, but rather by which part of the Bill the amendment relates to.

What are Groupings?

In order to prevent repetition of debate during the meeting, amendments of a similar theme or topic are grouped together and debated at the same time. These are called Groupings. The debate on each group begins by the Convener calling on the MSP who has lodged the first amendment in that group to move their amendment and speak to it, and also to speak to all the other amendments in the Group. All other MSPs who may have an amendment that Group will also speak on the amendments in the Group. Other MSPs at the meeting can also speak in the debate. The debate winds up by the Convener asking the MSPs in whose name the first amendments is, to sum up the debate and decide whether to press the amendments (to a vote) or withdraw it (from consideration). If the MSP presses the amendment then the question on the amendment is put to the Committee (see below). If it is withdrawn (see below), then the amendment falls and the Committee moved onto the next amendment. Only MSPs who are Members of the Committee can vote on amendments.

One of the consequences of voting on amendments in marshalled order, but debating them in groupings, means that certain amendments may be debated at an early point in the meeting, but will not be decided upon on until later. For example – the first Grouping for the meeting on 13 May contains amendments 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 36, 37. So while amendments 1 will be decided on as soon as the debate on that group finishes, amendments 36 and 37 won’t be decided until till later in the meeting as they are further down the Marshalled List. When the Committee reached amendments 36 and 37 on the Marshalled List, the Convener will call those amendments “already debated with Amendment 1” and ask the MSP if the wish to move the amendments for decision.

What is Moving, Pressing and Withdrawing of amendments?

In order for any amendment to be debated it must first be moved. Any MSP can move any amendment, however, it is usually the MSP who has lodged the amendment who moves it. Once moved, an amendment is debated by the Committee (usually as part of a Group – see above). After the amendment is debated the MSP who moved it will be asked if they wish to press it to a vote or if they wish to withdraw it. If they press the amendment then the question will be put to the Committee asking if all members agree with the amendments. If all members agree, then the amendment is unanimously passed. If any member do not agree, then the question is put to a vote.

A simple majority is required to pass any amendment (excluding any MSP who may have abstained). In the event of a tie in the number of votes for and against an amendment, then the Convener may use a casting vote to decide the question. If a member wishes to withdraw an amendment they have already moved, then the Committee must unanimously agree to allow it to be withdrawn. If any Committee member disagrees to an amendments being withdrawn then the Committee must vote on the amendment.

If an MSP decides not to move an amendment, or is allowed to withdraw an amendment, or the Committee votes against an amendment, then that amendments falls and the Committee carries on to the next amendment. Another rule, called the Rule of Progress, means the Committee can only consider each part of the Bill once. So once each section or schedule of the Bill has been agreed to (whether it was amended or not) it cannot be considered again at Stage 2. Stage 3, the final amending stage, exists to allow an opportunity for any final tidying up amendments to be made to a Bill.

What is a pre-emption?

You will notice in this Marshalled List that Amendment 12 pre-empts Amendments 13 and 14. Looking at Amendment 12, it proposes to delete Subsection 2 of Section 5 of the Bill. However, Amendments 13 and 14 propose to amend the wording in Subsection 2 of Section 5. Therefore, if the Committee were to agree to Amendment 12, Subsection 2 would be deleted from the Bill. This would mean that the Committee couldn’t then consider Amendments 13 and 14, as they are would then be proposing to amend a part of the Bill which no longer exists (as Amendment 12 would have just deleted it). If Amendments 12 is not agreed to (or is withdrawn, or not moved) then Subsection 2 of Section 5 would remain in the Bill and Amendments 13 and 14 could then be considered. This process is called a pre-emption.

Comment Archive – “Scottish Airgun Licencing Campaign”

The following comments were originally made available bellow our No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland campaign page, and are now available here instead.

Cross posted by Erika, with kind permission from John Cavell who originally posted the comment on the No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland Facebook page.

Hi all. I’m not Scottish, nor do I live in Scotland but I have just emailed my response to the proposals. For what it’s worth, here is what I said:

I strongly oppose the proposals to introduce a licensing scheme and other restrictions on the use of low-powered airguns in Scotland:

I believe the proposed licensing scheme will not achieve the stated objectives of the Scottish Government: “… to protect the people of Scotland from the problem of inappropriate and unsafe airgun use” and “… only those with legitimate reason … will be able to own an airgun.” People who use low-powered airguns inappropriately and unsafely will not be deterred by the requirement to possess a licence and nor will that requirement prevent anyone without legitimate reason from obtaining an airgun, just as the UK-wide ban on handguns has not prevented an explosion in the possession and use of handguns by criminals. It will simply hamper the safe and legitimate enjoyment of low-powered airguns by the vast majority.

There are already dozens of offences that can be committed by use/possession of low-powered airguns, covering every conceivable situation. More laws and further restrictions on law-abiding, legitimate users are not required. However, proper enforcement of the existing laws by the police would be welcomed (I speak as a victim of airgun crime in England where, to the best of my knowledge, the police took no action at all).

A licensing scheme for low-powered airguns will not reduce the already low and still falling numbers of airgun offences. Offences are committed either by criminals who, by definition, are unlikely to change their ways simply because a licensing scheme has been introduced, or by essentially law-abiding people who inadvertently fall foul of the law due to ignorance of the laws or by accident (without any malice). With some 500,000 airguns in Scotland, the proposed scheme is likely to lead to the criminalization of many law-abiding people who currently possess airguns but are unaware of any new requirement for a licence. One can imagine such a “firearms-related criminal record” would have a devastating impact on decent people’s careers, voluntary work, mortgage applications, etc.

The proposed scheme is completely disproportionate to the level of crime committed with low-powered airguns in Scotland (195 recorded offences in 2011-12 and falling). The considerable effort and money that would be required on the part of the Scottish Government and Police to put the proposals into force would be so much better employed in enhancing the fight against the vastly more serious problems of crime related to illegal drugs, alcohol-fuelled violence, serious motoring offences, domestic violence, etc.

The proposal to outlaw responsible “plinking” is unjustified and a severe infringement of law-abiding citizens’ right to the safe enjoyment of their pastime on their own private property. There are already many laws covering the use of low-powered airguns that prohibit pellets from passing the boundary of the property and protect most birds, animals and pets etc. Enhanced public awareness of these laws and enforcement when they are maliciously broken should be sufficient to continue the downward trend in low-powered airgun-related offences.

I urge the Scottish Government to reconsider its proposals. Low-powered airgun offences have been falling, and will no doubt continue to fall, as a result of some excellent public awareness work. Continue that work, and ensure the Police enforce the many existing laws. Invest the vast amount of money the scheme would cost and the considerable Police effort in administering it in an area where it will have a greater beneficial impact and will do more good.

Yours faithfully

Original comment by Stuart Smith:

I live right on the border between Scotland and England, I shoot on both sides of the border, say one day I take an air gun and not a firearm, I start in England, then break the law in Scotland, two parts of the same nation, does the offence count against you in England? Just one of the many problems arising.

Reply to the above by Dave Ewing:

Stuart- I think it would depend on if they caught you in Scotland or not and if they wanted to try and make an example of someone. What I think will happen is if it goes ahead in Scotland then the UK Government will try to follow suit. This is one of the reasons behind this page being set up to try and unite all gun owners in the UK and co-ordinate our actions against any unfair, unworkable legislation.

Original Comment by Charles:

Just a small observation on the united front presented by the Shooting fraternity. I have read that there are between half and two million Air Gun users in the UK as whole yet, although to be praised and celebrated, there are only circa 13600 Petition signatures. Perhaps the lobbying of MSP’s
directly was greater?

Reply to above by Erika:

I believe the turn out was significant, yet still disappointing given the numbers of people involved. Personally I believe that through decades of media bias, misinformation, and attacks to rights, many within the shooting community are fearful of getting involved and prefer to try and fly bellow the radar.

I hope this website can serve as a rallying call to unite and mobilize the shooting and other communities affected by such legislation.

Original reply by Stephen:

I read the consultation about the proposed licensing scheme and i don’t like the way that a “good reason” is being imposed upon the ownership of low powered airguns. That takes the airgun licence beyond a shotgun certificate, as one needs no “good reason” to possess a shotgun. All that is required is the desire to own it. It was also implied in the consultation document that informal target shooting, or plinking, would not be accepted as a good reason. In fact the document crowed that the Scottish government wants to stamp out plinking, though there is no obvious risk to public safety involved in it. I don’t live in Scotland so this law does not affect me directly but I do fear that in the event of Labour returning to power in 2015 the law would be imposed on England and Wales.

Reply to the above by Erika:

We share your fears Stephen which is why we created the sister campaign No to Airgun Licencing in England & Wales.

Gunning for justice and reason; Shooting Times

If you would to discuss this article, the issues it touches upon or anything else related to shooting sports or firearms ownership then please join us in the discussions on our Facebook page.

Sums Not Possible

A Firearms UK meme on the potential cost of an airgun licensing scheme for Scotland

PPC Discussion on Airgun Licensing; Debrief

David Ewing, both a founding member of Firearms UK and the founder of the “No to Airgun Licensing in Scotland” campaign was in the Scottish Parliament on the 3rd of September 2013 to provide an opening address and answers questions on behalf of the twenty one thousand who signed his petition against the Scottish Government’s proposal to introduce a licensing scheme and further restrict low powered airguns in Scotland. The following statement has been prepared by David.

Initially I was incredibly nervous when I sat down at the table. I am not used to giving presentations especially in a venue such as the Scottish Parliament. As the proceedings were running late I had to cut down the length of my opening statement from ten minutes to around five. Unfortunately this threw me a lot and left me having to think on my feet trying to draw together parts of what I had prepared. Gratefully the Committee Chair appeared very understanding which helped put me at ease.

My opening statement basically reiterated that this proposal would be a costly burden on the Police, Taxpayer and on the individual airgun user. I also stated that the proposal was disproportionate when compared to the amount of airgun offenses and so unjustified. The committee quickly moved onto questions and discussions pertaining to the evidence I had provided and the statements I made.

I had provided the committee with examples of the variety of airgun purchase prices which prompted a question as to why people who wanted to own airguns would be against licensing, particularly when airguns can cost £1000 or more. My response was that whilst people with expensive airguns may be OK with paying for a license [the license being a small fraction of the airgun cost] for example serious competitive shooters and possibly professional pest controllers [who could offset the cost]. License fees could have a huge impact on people entering the sport and those with cheaper airguns.

A discussion regarding terminology was had. Mr Tam Parker (The Scottish Association for Country Sports, SACS) correctly stated that referring to airguns as “air weapons” was incorrect unless the airgun was being used to harm or threaten someone. An airgun used for target practise should not be referred to as a “weapon”.

Key amongst the questions was what I thought the cost of implementing a license system would be and how I had obtained the figures. I stated that at the highest end of the scale it could potentially be around £100,000,000 in processing applications using figures obtained from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Figures which the ACPO had provided regarding the cost of processing applications for Shotgun Certificates and assuming that there would be 500,000 applications. Clearly there is unlikely to be this number of applications so to balance this I offered the more conservative estimate that even if the amount of licence applications was reduced to the more reasonable number of 125,000 it would still cost around £25,000,000 to process, again using the ACPO figures.

There was, in my opinion, a rather cheap shot fired at me by Mr Chic Brodie MSP, who after asking if I had ever been shot with an airgun, to which I responded I had not, informed me that he had been shot with an one. Mr Parker pointed out that Mr Brodie being shot by someone using an airgun is already an illegal offence. It was pointed out by a member of the committee that an airgun licensing scheme would not necessarily prevent that type of crime from occurring.

Mr Brodie then proceeded to make a comment regarding a child killed by someone using an airgun. Mr Brodie’s comment regarding the child’s death offended me greatly, as in my opinion, it was an attempt to exploit a tragedy to try get people’s emotions fired up. I responded to his comment stating that whilst every gun owner would agree that it is a tragedy, there was a similar incident where a child was beaten to death with a golf club yet there is not the same outcry against golf. The death of a child is the death of a child and you cannot blame an inanimate object for the will of the person holding or using it. (Out of interest, I later found out that Mr Brodie is part of the Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Golf)

Dr Colin Shedden (The British Association for Shooting & Conservation, BASC) mentioned that an unintended consequence of airgun licensing may be that people may not go for an airgun license, they may go straight to SGC/FAC instead.

A member of the committee highlighted that tickets for shooting sports at the Commonwealth games are among the fastest selling.

I feel that the prior to the meeting the committee did not have an understanding of the potential scale of the issue, i.e. the number of airguns in circulation (Dr Shedden confirmed that the 500,000 was a minimum figure), the potential costs of a licensing scheme and the potential impact on airgun sports.

There was a recommendation by Mr Brodie that the petition should be closed, however after a counter recommendation by Mr Carlaw of the Conservative party it was decided that it would be best to leave the petition open while the Justice Secretary responded to some of the issues presented.”

Airgun Licensing on the Radio

URGENT There is to be a radio interview at approximately 17:45 this evening with one of our own and the founder of the No to Airgun licensing in Scotland campaign, please get the word out and listen in to show your support. Further details about today’s important meeting in the Scottish Parliament will be made available as soon as possible.

A message of thanks

A message of thanks to everyone who supported the No to Airgun Licensing campaign

Judgement Day

A Firearms UK meme with a Judgement Day theme

I Signed the Petition… Did You?

An important Firearms UK campaign poster