The following comments were originally made available bellow our No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland campaign page, and are now available here instead.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