Airgun law may be devolved to Scotland.

The Government has indicated that the control of airguns will be devolved to Scotland with the announcement in the Queen’s Speech that the findings of the Calman Commission will be implemented.

Shooting bodies are concerned that the Calman Review’s recommendation to devolve airgun law will be included in a Scotland Bill to be launched this Autumn.

A change in the law would affect the estimated 500,000 airgun owners in Scotland and potentially incur huge financial costs at a time when budgets are being restricted.

In line with other shooting organisations, BASC has expressed its opposition to the separation of power over the UK’s firearms laws and is seeking a meeting with policing minister Nick Herbert to clarify the Westminster Government’s position.

Dr Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director, said: “BASC will continue to work to try to maintain firearms legislation as a reserved power.”

David Penn for the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) also expressed concern: “This council will continue to resist this unnecessary proposal and will be seeking meetings with the ministers concerned.”

If powers over airgun law are devolved, it is thought that Scottish ministers would move towards a ban on all unlicensed airguns.

The SNP promised to restrict airguns after the death of Andrew Morton in 2007 and restrictions have the backing of the Scottish Parliament.

In the event of airgun law being devolved, BASC Scotland will make the case to MSPs that airgun crime can be prevented through better enforcement of existing laws and points to falling figures for airgun offences in support of this argument.

Dr Shedden said: “Recent figures have shown that airgun crime in Scotland has fallen by 23% and that education and enforcement of existing legislation are the best ways to address any perceived problem.”

David Penn said the BSSC shared this view, adding: “The BSSC does not see the value of a licensing system that will incur huge unnecessary costs and be ignored by criminals.”

Ross Montague of the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) predicted a tightening of the law on airguns in Scotland was inevitable but expressed optimism the Scottish Government would not place draconian restrictions on shooters: “The Scottish Government is on record as supporting shooting and we have no reason to suspect they would set out to place unworkable restrictions on shooters. The indications are that there would be a licensing regime for airguns and we aim to ensure this is as unrestrictive as possible.”

He went on to call for Scottish shooting organisations to consider the possibility of devolution of all firearms legislation to Scotland and to agree a united position: “The SCA is calling for a meeting of the relevant shooting and land management organisations to explore what the devolution of powers over airguns, or even all firearms, could mean.”

The prospect of the devolution of airgun law and resulting restrictions on airgun ownership in Scotland raises questions about the extent to which such moves would involve wider firearms legislation.

The Home Office has expressed concern over difficulties in separating airguns from other firearms in legal terms given the existence of firearms-rated airguns.

There is also the possibility that Holyrood would require powers to change UK firearms legislation were a law passed requiring all airguns to necessitate a firearms certificate.

  • tinamac

    I am worried that, as usaual, the law will be changed to include more licencing and more restriction, on the grounds that one must have a “legitimate” use for guns.
    As an inner city child, I had access to air pistols and air rifles and other weapons (e.g. catapults) as part of our daily lives. We used them for tin cans target practice and to kill sparrows (to feed the ferret) and vermine (for fun), or occassionally paoched rabbits (for food). Since then the increasing legislation, cost of, and lack of availability of guns and gun sports has served only to reduce the number of people using guns and made it an elitist activity for those who are lucky enough to have a connection to the land (or are criminals).

    Over the years the people in the gun community who have worked good naturedly with “authorities” have now become a tiny minority and have inadvertently made guns and activities involving guns something to be frowned upon by the mainstream, because now “unless you have a legitimate reason for having and using a gun” you are seen as some sort of weirdo – in our current society, where any minority can be oppressed by a majority on a whim its only a matter of time before anything but shooting at targets will be allowed, and then only with a letter from god about your perceived good character.
    Unless the tide can be turned in favour of gun usage, making it normalised and popularised, and the killing of animals put in its proper context (i.e. ok to shoot as long as species are not put in danger of extinction and those who shoot animals managing their numbers) then shooting live quarry is doomed.

  • Robert Mackensie

    What i don’t understand is how people with the low level of life experience and intelligence get into government.

    Over and over again things are banned, and the ban never stops the use of the item, what tends to happen, as we all know ,is the banned item goes underground and out of control. Examples, USA – banned alcohol in the 30’s didn’t stop drink, Cannabis / Cocaine / Heroin is a illegal doesn’t stop people taking it , Shooting people is illegal still happens. Banning legal sale of airguns will not stop the injuring of people , instead of a pellet a brick will be used, as said by dave it ain’t the gun that kills.

    We need to accept Airguns and other weapons are part of life. Teach our kids how to use them safely, accept them as part of growing up and encourage sensible behaviour and discourage stupid behaviour. This approach will have a better impact on safe use than banning, I speak from experience I grew up with air guns in a sensible and responsible way.

    Why are MP’s and MSP’s to stupid to understand these simple facts of life and why do they think they have a right to control our lives.

    We pay tax that pays for their wages and expenses and bonus’s , offices etc … therefore we should be the boss, not the idiot politiians making stupid damaging decsions.

  • brian harvey

    i do not know what the law is regarding owning a airrifle i have one am i a criminal is it ilegal to own one could somebody let me know ?

  • Marc

    Im not a criminal but i wont follow any air gun laws simply i shoot where i want when i want, and even on public land and i don’t give a dam about the UK laws or the police or wether the gun is legal or not you only live once and i’ve been doing this for the last 28 years and i am not about to stop no matter what laws are brought in.

  • cammy

    what’s the law for air gunz now

  • dave

    GUNS DO NOT KILL, IDIOTS WITH GUNS KILL!!!!, Anyone with the intent to harm can do so by means as simple as a pen! how many people have died in the uk as a result of an airgun shot in the last 10 years in comparison to the amount of deaths caused by alcohol, how many people in the last 10 years have died with lung cancer as a result of smoking, why are these things not banned!!!! airguns are used as a serious proffesional sport,field target practice, pest controll ect,some fall into the hands of braindead idiots who underestimate the airguns lethal potential.
    how many pre meditated murders involve an air gun???

  • Shooter of Australia

    They should ban crime, that’ll stop it from happening.