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Shooting organisations criticise airgun decision

Shooting organisations denounce Holyrood airgun control.
The government?s announcement that it has decided ?in principle? to devolve control of airguns to the Scottish Parliament has been condemned by shooting organisations.

The announcement came following a commitment from the government in the recent Queen?s Speech to respond to the controversial findings of the Calman Commission review.

The review, which was published in June by Sir Kenneth Calman, looked at Scottish devolution since 1998 and proposed a number of recommendations, including transferring control of airgun law to Holyrood.

In a statement to the House of Commons on 25 November, Scottish secretary, Jim Murphy, said it was time for Scotland to be made more accountable and that laws concerning airguns would be devolved, though the new powers may not be transferred for another six years.

It is thought that Scottish ministers would then move towards a ban on all unlicensed airguns. Mr Murphy said: ?The Westminster government agrees in principle to devolve the regulation of airguns to the Scottish Parliament. We will introduce a Scotland Bill as soon as possible in the next Parliament to implement the Calman Commission recommendations.?

The divisive recommendation comes after former home secretary Jacqui Smith rejected calls last year from the then justice minister, Kenneth MacAskill, for an overhaul of the 1968 Firearms Act, which would restrict the sale of airguns in Scotland.

However, the Conservative Party has said it will not be coerced into accepting a Labour government white paper on giving Holyrood much greater powers.

Party leader, David Cameron, said: ?We will not be bound by any white paper produced by the present government in the short time that remains before the election. If the Conservatives win the next General Election, we will produce our own white paper and legislation to deal with the issues raised by the Calman review.?

BASC?s director of communications, Christopher Graffius, told Shooting Times Scottish ministers are unfairly penalising legitimate airgun users in Scotland: ?This is the politics of populism, not of practicality. Though it is natural for the Scottish secretary to be concerned about his party?s standing in Scotland in the run-up to an election, he should be aware that in the whole of the UK there are millions of people who own airguns, many of whom will be appalled.?

The Scottish secretary also said this decision will require primary legislation, which will not come in until after the General Election.

Mr Graffius added: ?BASC will be pressing all political parties for an assurance that, if elected, all control over firearms law will stay at Westminster. The curse of British firearms law has been its piecemeal development. Devolving control over airguns to Scotland is more tinkering at the edges, which will do nothing to improve safety.?

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