The No to Airgun Licencing Campaign was founded on the 14th December 2012 in response to the Scottish Governments “consultation” on licencing airguns in Scotland. The campaign as an active Facebook Page and a petition.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, SMP for the SNP has led the push to licence low powered airguns in Scotland for some years, but until 2012 when control over airguns were devolved to the Scottish Government, he did not have the means to impact legislation which until then was managed by the Home Office. With the means at his disposal he then announced a new consultation on what an airgun licence should cover. In an insult to the democratic process the principle of licencing was never consulted upon, with MacAskill saying “this will happen”.
The campaign, founded by Dave Ewing was setup to oppose the disproportionate infringement upon law abiding Scottish airgun owners, whose property, hobbies and sport was now being jeopardized in an overtly biased consultation process, setup to provide false justification to severely impact the overwhelming majority law abiding majority of airgun owners in Scotland.
This campaign was encouraged and received huge levels of support from the BASC and quickly gathered momentum. The campaign was then further supported by shooting organisations including; Scottish Association of Country Sports, Scottish Air Rifle and Pistol Association and the Scottish Countryside Alliance.
At the end of 2012 it was revealed that >Firearms Crime, including airgun crime was at the lowest for 30 years in Scotland. Airgun crime fell 71% from the 2006 figures With only 195 airgun offences in Scotland A ratio of less than 0.04%. To put this into perspective there were more injuries by dog bites admitted into one hospital alone and around 12.4% of cars are involved in offenses. Continuing to grow, the campaign petition reached 12,500 signatures on February 27th.
Founding of Firearms UK
Discussions with campaigns founder and passionate supporters in January 2013 resulted in a unanimous conclusion that we wanted should do something more to build upon the enthusiasm and momentum create by this campaign and that the momentum should be widened to include all other lawful uses of firearms ownership and all sporting disciplines, not limited to airguns. After laying out some initial groundwork, Firearms UK was officially launched on 4th March.
BASC produced a lengthy and wonderful written defense against the proposals and outlined various ways in which supporters and those affected can have their say and oppose the proposals; including signing the campaigns petition and following the campaign via social media, as well as responding to the official consultation and lobbying MP’s and MSP’s other this issue. Full details alongside published responses from members and interested parties are also available on the BASC Website.
The No to Airgun Licencing Facebook page describes the proposals as:
“This is yet another attack on law abiding shooters who have no desire to break the law or commit crimes in an attempt to be seen to be doing something about crime rather than tackling the root causes or correctly punishing wrong doers it will only lead to people giving up their sports and hobbies due to increased expense and red tape. Shooting has come under constant attack in the past 30 years while there is absolutely no evidence to support that a licence will lower gun crime or violent crime.”
In March 2013, the results of the consultation were published and despite the principle of licencing not even being put on the agenda a staggering 87% of those who responded to the official consultation where against the principle of licencing low powered airguns as the Scottish Government intends. Despite this Kenny MacAskill decided to ignore the results and press on with his scheme regardless.
Some Key points from:
[su_spoiler title=”The BASC response…” icon=”plus” style=”simple”]
“We have argued for the past five years that existing legislation is more than adequate to address any misuse of air weapons, if enforced, and that education of both young people and adults will give society the protection that it deserves. In fact, the 71% decrease in air weapon offences in Scotland over the past five years is testament to this philosophy and BASC has been pleased to play its part both in advising Scottish Government on its educational initiatives and carrying out our own extensive training through our Young Shots programme and at schools.”
“We believe it is neither practicable nor necessary to include any type of air weapon ammunition. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 already prohibits the sale of air weapon ammunitionto under 18’s. It would not be a demonstrably proportionate benefit to further restrict air weapon ammunition should a certificate regime be brought into effect for air weapons themselves. Current laws for misuse of air weapons should be enforced.”
“The consultation document contains the sentence “There is no “right to bear arms” in modern Scotland” (para 23).BASC asserts that this is an unhelpful statement which has no bearing on the consultation process. The control over possession of low-powered firearms for legitimate purposes such as hunting and sport shooting has nothing to do with the possession of firearms for personal protection or the defence of the realm.”
“It is BASC’s understanding that the majority of airgun crime stems from people having them illegally in public places contrary to Section 19 of the Firearms Act and shooting at pets, property and people contrary to a raft of offences against the person, animal welfare laws and other such offences. As we state earlier in our response it is also an offence to allow a pellet to leave the boundary of property where permission to shoot has been granted. It is unhelpful to suggest that people shooting responsibly in the privacy of their own gardens should lose their right to this quiet enjoyment of their property because of the irresponsible few who perpetrate their crimes in the streets.”
[su_spoiler title=”The SARPA response…” icon=”plus” style=”simple”]
“It is apparent to SARPA that the vast majority of airgun incidents occur not by users “Plinking” but by airguns being carried illegally in public places by people intent on breaking the law or by youths lacking the required level of supervision, either situation is already covered by existing laws.”
“Regards Para 32. With the exception of the term “good reason” SARPA does not disagree with this Paragraph, approval on Air Weapon Licenses should be fair and proportionate and given the level of risk significantly lighter than those applied to Shotguns, We agree that possession of an air weapon “should place legal responsibilities on the individual”. This is the case already there should be no need for an additional license scheme to reinforce this point.”
“As stated we do not see the need for the creation of a license scheme. This said any fees must be held as low as possible to ensure the maximum uptake from airgun users if an air weapon licence scheme is to succeed. We would contend that given the very low incident rate the implementation of a license scheme is a public confidence exercise and as such the majority of the burden should funded from the general public purse not the airgun users who for the majority have carried out their pastimes with little incident for decades. The fact that the incident rates continue to fall without further intervention reinforces that the general airgun user is not the concern and should not be priced out of their activity.”
The consultation document for the proposals is available here
Since its creation on 14th December 2012 the No to Airgun Licecning Facebook page as been a hot bed of discussion and a place for both shooters and non shooters to share their feelings about the proposals. Alongside specific objections to the cost, the burden on the police and how effective the legislation will be to tackle the problems associated with airgun misuse there is consistent aversion to the idea of increased meddling and burecracy aimed at a sport which as had more than its fair share of legislation for decades. The following quotes are a selection from their Facebook page.
Pete Bainbridge of Glasgow writes:
“This whole idea is simply a political stunt the Scottish parliament are using in an attempt to win favor with the public. They just want to be seen to be doing something to reduce gun crime. All this will do is give the illusion of safety. Never mind the fact that gun crime is down 21% in the past year and is at a 34 year low! As already mentioned this will not affect any criminals as they are hardly going to register any weapons they may have or purchase any more legally. This will only place unfair cost and restrictions the law abiding citizens while costing the tax payers a fortune!”
Sean Rutherford writes:
“Once bans or licences are in place they aren’t going to be undone. It’s all because there is a lack of real gun education vs the overwhelming amount of scaremongering. Even people i know have asked me “Why do you have a gun? I answer: “Because i enjoy shooting.” They all respond with another “Why?” question. It’s like reasoning with a toddler.”
Public Petitions Committee (PPC)
In June 2013 the petition was officially submitted to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee. There was also an article in the Scottish Sunday Express highlighting the petition and the unpopular nature of the proposal. Dave, the campaigns founder was then invited to attend the Scottish Parliament to discuss his petition, attending in September 2013 with representatives from BASC and SACS. A representative from the SCA was also in attendance in the public gallery to show support. A video of that meeting is available here www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyTj4xxJleQ
Several issues were raised during that meeting, so the view of the majority of the panel was to allow the petition to remain open until Kenny MacAskill had an opportunity to respond to the issues that had been raised. In November 2013 the petition was closed by the Committee on the grounds that I Dave had responded to the consultation and that legislation was already underway (despite overwhelming opposition).
The campaigns founder again opposed the proposals, responding to Kenny MacAskills answers regarding the issues brought up in the PPC meeting, requesting that the minutes of the meeting of the Scottish Firearms Consultancy Panel be published to confirm what was actually agreed regarding the 500,000 figure. Several requests to MSPs and a freedom of information request have been turned down in attempts to get these minutes published.
Early 2014; The Waiting Game
After the release of figures published in December 2013 that showed that airgun crime and continued to decline, with a further 13% drop, and now into April 2014 things have gone rather quiet regarding airgun licencing. This appears to be a combination of the unpopularity of the proposal and Kenny MacAskill being occupied with another controversial piece of legislation in the attempt to remove the need for corroboration from the Scottish Justice System.
It is uncertain what lays ahead for the shooting community in Scotland or the UK but one thing is clear we must continue to unite and stand as one voice. It is quite clear from comments made by Kenny MacAskill that Section 2 Shotguns are next on the agenda. Whilst the future remains uncertain we ask that you continue to sign the online petition in an act of solidarity and to declare your opposition to the proposals to licence low powered airguns in Scotland, please also follow the campaigns social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and discussions.
Campaign Update (19th May 2014)
On the 15th of May Kenny MacAskill announced the Bill that will licence airguns. The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill states what the law will be with regards to airguns in Scotland. It appears to be based entirely on the section 1 process for obtaining a Firearms Certificate which will result in many people having to give up their airguns and their hobby.
As many will be aware the public consultation on this proposal received an overwhelming majority of 87% of responses against airgun licencing. In addition to the consultation a campaign and online petition which has so far achieved 22,500 signatures was presented to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee. Several issues were raised regarding the proposal especially with regards to cost. These issues were put to Kenny MacAskill who simply brushed them aside without offering any evidence to support his counter claims.
The Regulatory Review Group has stated that impact assessments were not carried out, the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents also voiced concerns regarding the cost.
All of the above have been ignored by the Scottish Government. Please click bellow to view our official response to the introduction of this bill.
Firearms UK Official Response
Firearms UK condemn as inappropriate, unjustified, expensive and bureaucratic the decision by the Scottish Government to introduce the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, this in spite of the falling airgun crime level, the representation of Police Scotland, a Scottish Government Consultation which garnered 87% response against the move, a Petition against which was signed by circa 22,000 people and continued representation against by shooting organisations including BASC, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Air Rifle & Pistol Association and many others the legislation is to be pursued.
Once again we see a knee jerk reaction to a tragic single event committed by one person being used as a politically ideological stick with which to beat law abiding people, condemning all for the action of one and using inanimate, non-autonomous objects that are safe in the hands of responsible people as a political excuse to introduce measures purportedly aimed at those who having chosen to become criminals, or commit criminal acts are the last group who will be applying for a certificate. The issue around young people and misuse if deemed significant is better addressed by education and parental responsibility, than by badly drafted law.
A failure to comply with this draconian measure if it becomes law will only serve to create criminals by default, overnight, of what are today law abiding people who enjoy a cheap, enjoyable pastime. Airgun shooting is a cost effective, safe and practical all inclusive sport that should not be the subject of such a costly, time consuming exercise in unjustifiable, divisive decision making.
[su_spoiler title=”Further reading (Click Here)” icon=”plus” style=”simple”]
Firearms UK ‘Blog Posts’ related to this campaign can be found here
The original comments to this page have been migrated and are now visible here
Campaign Progression up to 15th May 2014
- Shooting and Conservation, March / April 2013, Two weeks to save airguns – make your voice heard
- Scottish Sunday Express, 16th June 2013, 14,000 Scots in bid to stop airgun licencing
- Shooting Times, 26th June 2013, Shooters urged to sign airgun petition
- Shooting Times, 4th December 2013, Gunning for justice and reason
After Introduction of Licensing Bill
SGA Statement: Introduction of Airgun Licensing
Air gun licensing plan for Scotland to be unveiled
Scottish airgun licensing bill introduced
Airgun licensing in Scotland a costly and bureaucratic mistake
Air gun fans enraged by Scottish Government bid for licensing
Scottish airgun bill under fire