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Licensing: Gunning for justice and reason

I’m a 25-year-old mechanical engineer from Scotland. I have always had an interest in firearms and also believe in the individual rights of law-abiding people. I have great concerns about the future of shooting and firearms ownership in the UK. I do not believe that we are involved enough in defending our rights. So I kick-started a petition…

Last December Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Government’s Secretary for Justice, announced that he was proposing a licensing system for airguns in Scotland, developed in consultation with the Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel (SFCP). A consultation exercise was launched so that the public could have their say. I set up a petition, calling for the proposals to be dropped, and almost 22,000 people signed it. The consultation is now over, a Licensing Bill has been proposed and the petition is closed.

I am concerned about what happens next. Will the views of thousands of people be ignored and legislation be steam-rollered through regardless? If so, then we have to ask ourselves what else we are prepared to do to defend our rights and interests.

I am not willing to accept defeat. I do not own airguns and very rarely shoot them, but have good reasons for continuing to fight the bill:

– it punishes law-abiding citizens instead of those who misuse airguns;

– existing legislation already covers violent or threatening misuse of airguns and should be enforced;

– it seriously infringes individuals’ rights to use airguns safely and responsibly on their own property;

– the potential cost to the airgun user is high — it may drive people away from what is currently a relatively cheap and easy sport to get in to, and in particular may put young people off taking up shooting sports; and it will not stop at this — other shooting sports and hobbies will be next.

We do not deserve to be prey to the bullies and scaremongers who would rather score cheap political points than tackle the real social problems that are the root causes of violence and crime. I sincerely hope that somewhere along the line justice and reason will prevail. It is up to the good politicians out there to take action otherwise the faith of the public in them and our political system will continue to erode.

Why so secretive?

The Scottish Government is refusing to publish the minutes of the meetings of the SFCP, including denial of Freedom of Information requests, claiming it is “not in the public interest”. I and several others have asked for the minutes to be published for a number of reasons, including showing whether the panel’s estimate of 500,000 airguns in Scotland is a maximum or a minimum figure.

My own calculations on the number of low-powered airguns in Scotland, based on extrapolating the figures for England and Wales, comes out at more than 670,000, owned by more than 378,000 people. I estimate that it would cost around £75million to process — surely that is in the “public interest”?

The US pro-gun lobby is often frowned upon by the UK shooting establishment, but I’ll say one thing for them — they get out there in large numbers and defend their rights very vocally. Some may say the Americans are extreme, but perhaps if we had been as strong and united as they are we would not be facing this bill.

Our shooting and country sports communities must easily number in the hundreds of thousands in Scotland, and millions in the UK, yet we appear to expect others to do the work for us. This is not acceptable. I ask all those wishing to defend shooting to visit the Firearms UK website ( and join the campaign to promote lawful, responsible and safe shooting activities. It might be wise to bear in mind the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”