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Shooting community urged to sign airgun petition

More than 14,000 people have signed a petition asking the Scottish Government to drop all proposals to license airguns in Scotland — but more shooters are being urged to add their names to it.

There are currently 14,193 signatures on the petition, which will be discussed at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on 3 September.

Shooting organisations are urging shooters to continue to sign the petition, because the increased number of signatories can be presented during the meeting in September.

On the 3 May, the Scottish Government received 1,136 responses to a consultation on the subject, the majority of which were opposed to licensing.

BASC’s Conor O’Gorman said: “When petition founder Dave Ewing makes his presentation to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in September we can strengthen his hand by helping add as many signatures as possible.”

“Signing is quick and easy and once you have done so you can help spread the word by email and Facebook. In 2012, the talking point was WHSmith [refusing to sell shooting magazines to children] — let’s help make airguns the victory of 2013.”

Mr Ewing told Shooting Times that he was delighted by the response so far.

“However, it is very important for people to continue signing and showing support, as the shooting community must pull together to defend our rights,” he said.

“Fourteen-thousand is just a drop in the ocean when we look at all the people in the UK with an interest in firearms and shooting. I am attending a meeting with the Public Petitions Committee regarding the petition in September and it would put us in a very good position if I could present a huge leap in signatures along with my opening statement.”

Following the popularity of the petition, Mr Ewing and some other shooters have formed an online group, Firearms UK, to help encourage more people from all sections of the shooting community to take a more active role in taking positive action to defend our sporting rights.

He said: “We believe an attack on one group is an attack on us all and we must unite to protect our sports. Every single law-abiding person that is deterred from shooting due to overly restrictive laws or unfair financial hurdles weakens our community.”

“Every one of us must rally and start to be more vocal when it comes to defending our hobbies and sports. It is no longer acceptable simply to ‘keep our heads down’ and hope they overlook us.”

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) has also urged shooters to continue to sign the petition.

Its development, training and education manager George Macdonald said: “The number of signatories to the petition is encouraging so far and it is important that everyone across the UK with an interest in this adds their name to it. There is already sufficient control written into existing firearms legislation to cover criminal acts.”

“Responsible people object to having legislation forced upon them where there is no demonstrable need. The statistics for misuse of an airgun are very low.”

He said new licensing powers would not eradicate criminal acts, but would increase the burdens on those who use airguns legally.

“Naturally everyone cares about safety but this should be done through education rather than unnecessary legislation,” he said.

“There is also a concern over police resources in Scotland. Having to set up a licensing system would be a resource and finance issue for Police Scotland at a time when force budgets and numbers are already stretched.”

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Shooting community urged to sign airgun petition