No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland

No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland Logo

The No to Airgun Licencing Campaign was founded on the 14th December 2012 in response to the Scottish Governments “consultation” on licencing airguns in Scotland. The campaign as an active Facebook Page and a petition which surpassed 12,500 signatures on February 27th.

small BASC Logo

BASC, The British Association for Shooting and Conservation have produced a lengthy and wonderful written defense against the proposals and have outlined the various ways in which you can support air gunners and others affected by the Scottish Governments proposals, full details alongside published responses from members and interested parties are also available on the BASC Website.

The Scottish Governments proposals, and the manner in which the consultation was presented (with a strong air of, we’ll do as we place no matter the responses) have stirred up a flurry of activity in support of Scottish Airgunners, not just localized to Scotland, but across the UK and further afield, with many seeing this as another unfair, disproportional attack and on a law abiding, safe community of shooters and hobbyists. A key talking point for the Facebook community opposed to the proposals is that their is no evidence that what is proposed is an effective and meaningful way to tackle the problems which it is supposed to solve, and that this is nothing more than “yet another attack on law abiding shooters who have no desire to break the law or comit crimes…” Drawing similarities with the current attacks facing shooters in America at the moment, this law in its essence is an attack on those who don’t commit the crimes that spurred its inception, and who obey the law, in contrast the criminals who this law is reported to be targeting, will carrying on regardless.

The No to Airgun Licencing Facebook page describes the proposals as:

“This is yet another attack on law abiding shooters who have no desire to break the law or commit crimes in an attempt to be seen to be doing something about crime rather than tackling the root causes or correctly punishing wrong doers it will only lead to people giving up their sports and hobbies due to increased expense and red tape. Shooting has come under constant attack in the past 30 while there is absolutely no evidence to support that a licence will lower gun crime or violent crime.”

We encourage anyone with an interest in rural life, shooting, firearms, hunting, or if you are just concerned about too much Government infringement into ordinary peoples lives to sign the No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland petition.

Air Rifle Target Shooting

Air Rifle Target Shooting

Alongside BASC who have submitted their own lengthy response to the consultation (draft available here), The Scottish Air Rifle and Pistol Association (SARPA) published their response to the consultation last night, you can download a .PDF version of that publication here.

Both BASC and SARPA are fundamentally opposed to the proposals of licencing airguns, answering all of the consultation questions in their responses and highlighting how erroneous the proposals are.

Some Key points from the SARPA response include:

“It is apparent to SARPA that the vast majority of airgun incidents occur not by users “Plinking” but by airguns being carried illegally in public places by people intent on breaking the law or by youths lacking the required level of supervision, either situation is already covered by existing laws.”

“Regards Para 32. With the exception of the term “good reason” SARPA does not disagree with this Paragraph, approval on Air Weapon Licenses should be fair and proportionate and given the level of risk significantly lighter than those applied to Shotguns, We agree that possession of an air weapon “should place legal responsibilities on the individual”. This is the case already there should be no need for an additional license scheme to reinforce this point.”

“As stated we do not see the need for the creation of a license scheme. This said any fees must be held as low as possible to ensure the maximum uptake from airgun users if an air weapon licence scheme is to succeed. We would contend that given the very low incident rate the implementation of a license scheme is a public confidence exercise and as such the majority of the burden should funded from the general public purse not the airgun users who for the majority have carried out their pastimes with little incident for decades. The fact that the incident rates continue to fall without further intervention reinforces that the general airgun user is not the concern and should not be priced out of their activity.”

Some Key points from the BASC response include:

“We have argued for the past five years that existing legislation is more than adequate to address any misuse of air weapons, if enforced, and that education of both young people and adults will give society the protection that it deserves. In fact, the 71% decrease in air weapon offences in Scotland over the past five years is testament to this philosophy and BASC has been pleased to play its part both in advising Scottish Government on its educational initiatives and carrying out our own extensive training through our Young Shots programme and at schools.”

“We believe it is neither practicable nor necessary to include any type of air weapon ammunition. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 already prohibits the sale of air weapon ammunitionto under 18’s. It would not be a demonstrably proportionate benefit to further restrict air weapon ammunition should a certificate regime be brought into effect for air weapons themselves. Current laws for misuse of air weapons should be enforced.”

“The consultation document contains the sentence “There is no “right to bear arms” in modern Scotland” (para 23).BASC asserts that this is an unhelpful statement which has no bearing on the consultation process. The control over possession of low-powered firearms for legitimate purposes such as
hunting and sport shooting has nothing to do with the possession of firearms for personal protection or the defence of the realm.”

“It is BASC’s understanding that the majority of airgun crime stems from people having them illegally in public places contrary to Section 19 of the Firearms Act and shooting at pets, property and people contrary to a raft of offences against the person, animal welfare laws and other such offences.
As we state earlier in our response it is also an offence to allow a pellet to leave the boundary of property where permission to shoot has been granted.
It is unhelpful to suggest that people shooting responsibly in the privacy of their own gardens should lose their right to this quiet enjoyment of their
property because of the irresponsible few who perpetrate their crimes in the streets.”

The consultation document for the proposals is available here

Since its creation on 14th December 2012 the No to Airgun Licecning Facebook page as been a hot bed of discussion and a place for both shooters and non shooters to share their feelings about the proposals. Alongside specific objections to the cost, the burden on the police and how effective the legislation will be to tackle the problems associated with airgun misuse there is consistent aversion to the idea of increased meddling and burecracy aimed at a sport which as had more than its fair share of legislation for decades. The following quotes are a selection from their Facebook page.

Pete Bainbridge of Glasgow writes:

“This whole idea is simply a political stunt the Scottish parliament are using in an attempt to win favor with the public. They just want to be seen to be doing something to reduce gun crime. All this will do is give the illusion of safety. Never mind the fact that gun crime is down 21% in the past year and is at a 34 year low! As already mentioned this will not affect any criminals as they are hardly going to register any weapons they may have or purchase any more legally. This will only place unfair cost and restrictions the law abiding citizens while costing the tax payers a fortune!”

Sean Rutherford writes:

“Once bans or licences are in place they aren’t going to be undone. It’s all because there is a lack of real gun education vs the overwhelming amount of scaremongering. Even people i know have asked me “Why do you have a gun? I answer: “Because i enjoy shooting.” They all respond with another “Why?” question. It’s like reasoning with a toddler.”

This post from the No to Airgun Licencing campaign, highlights another facet of this debate, which is sadly all too common where firearms are concerned. By ignoring the fact that the only legally held firearms not required to be on a licencing scheme are low powered air pistols and rifles, Kenny McAskill instead describes the 500,000 air arms reported to exist in Scotland as simply “firearms” to stir up more fear and support from the uninformed public to further his own agenda.

Just been brought to my attention from another website

“We do not believe that there should be half a million unlicensed firearms in 21st Century Scotland.” Kenny MacAskill

Although I have made reference to firearms laws in general on this site I do know the difference between an air weapon and firearm it doesn’t seem that our so called justice minister does. A problem a lot of these anti gun people seem to have. I wonder if he knows the difference between a centrefire and rimfire cartridge. Doubt it.

You can find all of our blog posts which relate to this campaign via this link.

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10 responses to “No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland

  1. Response to consultation by John Cavell (Cross posted from No to Airgun Licencing in Scotland Facebook Page)

    “Hi all. I’m not Scottish, nor do I live in Scotland but I have just emailed my response to the proposals. For what it’s worth, here is what I said:

    I strongly oppose the proposals to introduce a licensing scheme and other restrictions on the use of low-powered airguns in Scotland:

    I believe the proposed licensing scheme will not achieve the stated objectives of the Scottish Government: “… to protect the people of Scotland from the problem of inappropriate and unsafe airgun use” and “… only those with legitimate reason … will be able to own an airgun.” People who use low-powered airguns inappropriately and unsafely will not be deterred by the requirement to possess a licence and nor will that requirement prevent anyone without legitimate reason from obtaining an airgun, just as the UK-wide ban on handguns has not prevented an explosion in the possession and use of handguns by criminals. It will simply hamper the safe and legitimate enjoyment of low-powered airguns by the vast majority.

    There are already dozens of offences that can be committed by use/possession of low-powered airguns, covering every conceivable situation. More laws and further restrictions on law-abiding, legitimate users are not required. However, proper enforcement of the existing laws by the police would be welcomed (I speak as a victim of airgun crime in England where, to the best of my knowledge, the police took no action at all).

    A licensing scheme for low-powered airguns will not reduce the already low and still falling numbers of airgun offences. Offences are committed either by criminals who, by definition, are unlikely to change their ways simply because a licensing scheme has been introduced, or by essentially law-abiding people who inadvertently fall foul of the law due to ignorance of the laws or by accident (without any malice). With some 500,000 airguns in Scotland, the proposed scheme is likely to lead to the criminalization of many law-abiding people who currently possess airguns but are unaware of any new requirement for a licence. One can imagine such a “firearms-related criminal record” would have a devastating impact on decent people’s careers, voluntary work, mortgage applications, etc.

    The proposed scheme is completely disproportionate to the level of crime committed with low-powered airguns in Scotland (195 recorded offences in 2011-12 and falling). The considerable effort and money that would be required on the part of the Scottish Government and Police to put the proposals into force would be so much better employed in enhancing the fight against the vastly more serious problems of crime related to illegal drugs, alcohol-fuelled violence, serious motoring offences, domestic violence, etc.

    The proposal to outlaw responsible “plinking” is unjustified and a severe infringement of law-abiding citizens’ right to the safe enjoyment of their pastime on their own private property. There are already many laws covering the use of low-powered airguns that prohibit pellets from passing the boundary of the property and protect most birds, animals and pets etc. Enhanced public awareness of these laws and enforcement when they are maliciously broken should be sufficient to continue the downward trend in low-powered airgun-related offences.

    I urge the Scottish Government to reconsider its proposals. Low-powered airgun offences have been falling, and will no doubt continue to fall, as a result of some excellent public awareness work. Continue that work, and ensure the Police enforce the many existing laws. Invest the vast amount of money the scheme would cost and the considerable Police effort in administering it in an area where it will have a greater beneficial impact and will do more good.

    Yours faithfully”

  2. Pingback: No to Airgun Licecning in Scotland | Firearms UK

  3. I live right on the border between Scotland and England, I shoot on both sides of the border, say one day I take an air gun and not a firearm, I start in England, then break the law in Scotland, two parts of the same nation, does the offence count against you in England? Just one of the many problems arising.

    • Stuart- I think it would depend on if they caught you in Scotland or not and if they wanted to try and make an example of someone. What I think will happen is if it goes ahead in Scotland then the UK Government will try to follow suit. This is one of the reasons behind this page being set up to try and unite all gun owners in the UK and co-ordinate our actions against any unfair, unworkable legislation.

  4. Just a small observation on the united front presented by the Shooting fraternity. I have read that there are between half and two million Air Gun users in the UK as whole yet, although to be praised and celebrated, there are only circa 13600 Petition signatures. Perhaps the lobbying of MSP’s
    directly was greater?

  5. I believe the turn out was significant, yet still disappointing given the numbers of people involved. Personally I believe that through decades of media bias, misinformation, and attacks to rights, many within the shooting community are fearful of getting involved and prefer to try and fly bellow the radar.

    I hope this website can serve as a rallying call to unite and mobilize the shooting and other communities affected by such legislation.

  6. Pingback: No to Airgun Licencing in England & Wales | Firearms UK

  7. I read the consultation about the proposed licensing scheme and i don’t like the way that a “good reason” is being imposed upon the ownership of low powered airguns. That takes the airgun licence beyond a shotgun certificate, as one needs no “good reason” to possess a shotgun. All that is required is the desire to own it. It was also implied in the consultation document that informal target shooting, or plinking, would not be accepted as a good reason. In fact the document crowed that the Scottish government wants to stamp out plinking, though there is no obvious risk to public safety involved in it. I don’t live in Scotland so this law does not affect me directly but I do fear that in the event of Labour returning to power in 2015 the law would be imposed on England and Wales.

  8. We share your fears Stephen which is why we created the sister campaign No to Airgun Licencing in England & Wales.

  9. Pingback: Updated Logo | Firearms UK

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