The statistics on Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms in Scotland for 2013-14 have now been published, after a lengthy delay. BASC had been pushing for the statistics’ publication due to the information’s relevance to the looming Stage 3 debate on the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, which will take place on 25 June.
The figures show that airgun crime has remained low, and is at its second-lowest level in the ten-year period of 2004-2014. This also marks a 73 per cent decline from 2006-2007, when offences were at their peak. In total, airgun offences account for just 0.06 per cent of all crimes committed in Scotland. If the Scottish Parliament supports air weapon licensing they will be committing a significant and disproportionate amount of police time to the administration of tens of thousands of licence applications.
Colin Sheddon, director of BASC in Scotland, said: “Police Scotland is known to be struggling to commit resource to a wide range of criminal activity but will be committed to a significant administrative burden if air weapon licensing is implemented. To put this in context, air weapons accounts for just 11 out of 51,869 (0.02 per cent) crimes of vandalism, 8 out of 1,499 (0.5 per cent) robberies and 182 out of 273,053 (0.06 per cent) crimes in Scotland. There are an estimated 500,000 air weapons in Scotland – only a handful are used in criminal actions.”
BASC Scottish Committee chairman Alan Balfour said: “We are pleased to see that crimes involving airguns remain at this very low level accounting for 0.06 per cent of all crime. Airgun shooting is a low risk, low cost sport enjoyed by tens of thousands of people across Scotland every day. The introduction of a licensing scheme identical to that required for high powered rifles is disproportionate and, as these figures show, unnecessary.”
In a statement to the press, a BASC spokesperson said: “The information has been published in advance of the Stage 3 debate for the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill on 25 June when, if approved, airgun licences will become a legal requirement for users in Scotland. BASC has been contesting these proposals as there is no evidence to support a licensing scheme following the 73 per cent reduction in airgun crime since 2006-2007. There are concerns over the ability of Police Scotland to administer such a scheme after the number of firearms enquiry officers is reduced from 34 to 14. There is no public benefit to the proposals as they are not expected bring about a reduction in crime.”