Tag Archives: Scotland

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The following comments were originally made available bellow our No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland campaign page, and are now available here instead.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

Response from Gemma Doyle (Labour)

If you would to discuss this letter, 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.

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.”

Important Announcement

Yesterday (3rd September 2013) the Scottish Government announced their “Empowering Scotland: The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2013-2014”

On page 67 under the title of “Priorities for the Year Ahead”…

“57. The actions which the Scottish Government takes over the year ahead will aim to further empower communities, continue the vital reform and modernization of Scotland’s justice system, and take the action necessary both to protect public safety and encourage people away from offending:

*the Licensing Bill will create an effective licensing regime for air weapons to protect public safety and give local communities greater influence over aspects of alcohol and civic government licensing in order to preserve public order and safety, reduce crime, and promote public health”

We will continue to provide updates, and outline continued action against such measures as soon as possible

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

I Signed the Petition… Did You?

An important Firearms UK campaign poster

You are needed NOW!

A Firearms UK poster