Fall in Scottish gun crime.

The news of a major reduction in gun crime in Scotland, particularly that involving airguns, shows that existing measures to protect the public are working well, says the Scottish Countryside Alliance.

Director Jamie Stewart said that plans for an airgun licensing system in Scotland were unnecessary, and that new regulations would only penalise legitimate gun owners.

He said: “Subjecting airgun owners to stricter controls will involve a massive bureaucratic effort and take police off the streets in order to deal with the paperwork and enforcement of a law which will not accelerate the welcome downwards trend.”

“Criminals who don’t play by the rules will breathe a sigh of relief if new laws sidetrack police attention towards the thousands of law-abiding rural Scottish people who use airguns for pest control and sport.”

The Scottish Government’s figures show that there were 514 recorded offences in Scotland involving firearms in 2011/12, the lowest total recorded in 34 years.

The number of offences involving airguns dropped significantly, decreasing by 17% over the past year and 71% since 2006/07.

However, Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has repeatedly stated support for an airgun licensing regime since power was devolved to Holyrood earlier this year.

Reacting to the news, he said: “While the overall number of airgun offences has dropped again this year, the figure of 195 offences remains too high.”

However, Mr Stewart said: “If we have different standards on either side of the border, it could lead to problems for those travelling to Scotland for legitimate sporting activities.”

“The justice secretary should recognise that these sports provide a huge boost to rural communities over the winter months.”