Firearms offences fall as views sought on licence

by Legal Author on January 11, 2013

Guest post from criminal lawyers on firearms offences falling in Scotland as views sought on new licensing regime for air weapons.

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on a new licensing regime for air weapons. The news follows the announcement that the overall number of recorded firearms offences in Scotland has more than halved since 2006/07.

“We have a longstanding commitment to crack down on the misuse of guns and a licensing scheme for air guns will help address the problems that these weapons can cause to individuals and communities,” said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

For specialist criminal law advice on any of the issues raised in this post contact Beltrami & Company Solicitors (based in Glasgow, representing clients across Scotland).

Air guns consultation

Mr MacAskill stresses that the Government is not banning air weapons outright, but that there has to be a legitimate use for them.

“We are not consulting on the principle of licensing – this will happen,” he said. “While our primary concern is for public safety, we do not wish to penalise those who use air weapons responsibly and who can demonstrate a legitimate use for a gun, such as sport shooting or pest control.”

It is estimated that there could be as many as half a million unlicensed air guns in Scotland.

Licencing regime

The consultation is seeking views on:

  • the types of air weapon to be covered by the new regime;
  • legitimate reasons for possession of an air weapon;
  • competence or awareness of safety in handling air weapons;
  • timescales for the introduction of the new systems;
  • a licence fee to cover administration and other costs; and
  • offences and penalties.

Air weapons offences

New statistics on firearms offences published in December show that the number of firearms offences recorded by Scotland’s police forces fell 21% – from 647 in 2010-11 to 514 in 2011-12.

This represents the lowest total recorded in Scotland in 34 years and marks a reduction of more than 50% on 2006/07’s total of 1,260.

Air weapons accounted for 38% (195) of all offences involving firearms in 2011-12, compared to 36% (234) in 2010-11. When offences involving air weapons and unidentified weapons are excluded, the number of offences involving firearms fell from 343 in 2010-11 to 280 in 2011-12.

“These figures represent great progress in tackling the menace of firearms offences in our communities,” said Mr MacAskill. “Year on year, the number of crimes involving guns on our streets is dropping rapidly.”

Other firearms offences

Other statistics include:

  • The number of offences in which a firearm was discharged and which subsequently fatally or non-fatally injured a person decreased by 14%, from 111 in 2010-11 to 95 in 2011-12.
  • There were five homicides involving a firearm in 2011-12, an increase of three homicides compared to 2010-11.
  • The number of attempted murders involving a firearm decreased from 13 in 2010-11 to 11 in 2011-12.
  • The number of serious assaults involving a firearm decreased by 50% between 2010-11 and 2011-12, reducing from 12 offences to six.
  • The number of offences involving the alleged use of a shotgun decreased by 22% from 46 in 2010-11 to 36 in 2011-12. There was a 12% decrease in the use of pistols and revolvers, from 92 in 2010-11 to 81 in 2011-12.

For specialist legal advice from criminal defence lawyers see www.beltramiandcompany.co.uk

Legal Author

Legal Author

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