LibLink..Tavish Scott: Our difficult decisions easier than in US

Tavish Scott, Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, writes in today’s Scotsman contrasting the battle over gun control in the US to the consultation in Scotland over licensing of airguns.

Of the situation in the States in the wake of the awful Sandy Hook shootings last Christmas, Tavish writes:

But Obama senses a moment. The Connecticut shooting was so awful that pressure on Washington lawmakers is now intense. Last week, the president met Sandy Hook families who lost children and then flew them in Air Force 1 to Washington DC. These parents then met lawmakers on Capitol Hill. They asked for mandatory background checks on anyone buying a gun and restrictions on certain types of weapons. By any standards, the requests were reasonable. This was not a request for an outright ban on guns.

He then goes on to describe the situation in Scotland where the Government is consulting on airgun licensing following the death of a child:

 Now the Scottish Government is consulting on licensing airguns. This follows the tragic death of Andrew Morton, two, who was hit by an air gun pellet in Glasgow in 2005. There were 514 firearm offences in Scotland during 2011-12. Of these, 195 involved an air weapon. The SNP’s parliamentary majority means that licensing will happen, but what will it achieve?

On farms, pest control and teaching the safe handling of weapons is necessary. But owning an airgun in a city is hard to understand. Licensing should stop drug addicts having an airgun. But licensing should not stop country kids growing up on farms being taught how to handle an airgun safely. Fortunately, however, this debate in Scotland is a million miles away from gun control 3,000 miles to our west.

You can read the whole article here. Sadly it’s already out of date after the vote in the Senate last night. I am not sure how they could, after the emotional, but entirely reasonable message from the mother of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook last December which is also available here on You Tube. The comments are an education as to the hostile and ugly nature of this debate in the US.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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6 Comments

  • But airgun licensing will not stop violent crime. It will merely inconvenience thousands of law-abiding target-shooters, pest-control shooters and collectors. The vast majority of these owners live in urban areas and use their airguns safely. Why does Tavish Scott not mention law-abiding target-shooters? They include Olympians and Paralympians. I work with disabled people for whom airgun target-ahooting is one of the only sports they can do. Thousands of un-licensed airguns will continue to exist because only the law-abiding will bother to get a license and unlicensed guns may end up in cirminal hands. Criminals will continue to use bricks, bottles, knives and boots to commit violent crimes. All of these items are more dangerouos than low-powered airguns. The contents of the average kitchen drawer are far more dangerous than the average airgun. Tavish Scott does not mention that airguns are already subject to licensing in the UK and have been since 1968. Only lower-powered airguns are not licensed. The licensing scheme will be a waste of money, will not reduce violent crime and will result in an extra burden for the police. It is interesting to note that expressed police opinion in England has always opposed the licensing of low-powered airguns.

  • Geoffrey Payne 18th Apr '13 - 1:47pm

    I do not understand the objections from Ed Shepherd. Law abiding users of air rifles will get licences. The police will have an easier job because they can then arrest someone for simply being in possession of an unlicensed air rifle. Whether they used it in an illegal manner can also be investigated in addition to that. It is much harder to prove the latter than the former. The possibility of being arrested for being in possession of a unlicensed rifle will be a deterrent to having one, and then being able to commit crime using one.

  • jedibeeftrix 18th Apr '13 - 2:08pm

    Ed said this better than i could.

  • jedibeeftrix 18th Apr '13 - 2:55pm

    it is quite frankly unbritish, in that we should remain free to do whatsover we please under the sun that is not specifically proscribed under law, rather than have our rights delineated by endless legal exactitude as is common under roman law jurisdictions.

    that distinction is of course important, for scotland does not operate a common law system like emgland and wales, but i think ed and i both would object violently to importing this notion south of the border. It is quite literally a legal cancer destroying the concept of the freeborn englishman (not to sound too dramatic)!

  • I think Tavish Scott isn’t actually that enthusiastic about SNP’s proposal to licence airguns and actually foresees that the scheme will be biased towards prohibition rather than commonsense.

    I however, disagree with the assertion that only country kids need to learn how to handle a gun safely. Also whilst we automatically think of air rifles that fire pellets/slugs, we shouldn’t forget that paintball guns are also airguns.

    Now please excuse me, I’m off to practise my archery like a good law abiding Englishman …

  • @Geoffrey, it is because the Government is coming to steal his guns, or at least that is what I am told. Personally, I read the proposals much in the same way you did. The fact is, in the past, the police have not had the best track record when it comes to fairly enforcing firearms law enforcement. However, in my experience, licensing, which has been around for most guns in this country for a while now, has been a success for this very reason. Why? Simply because it means owners now have clear legal standards, making it much harder for the police to get all uppy about them possessing firearms on their person, when such arms are not being used in a manner which breaches the Law. They just show the police their license and go on their marry way. Sometimes, I particularly picky or careful officer may ask a few extra questions, but generally this is the exception. So, it means no more being logged and havingyour name reported because you were stopped for questioning.

    The problem is, certain gun owners are paranoid that this some evil master plan for by the Government to ban them. However, in all honesty, if the Government to ban them, it would not need this sound and dance to do so, as generally speaking, most people are quite in favour of strong gun regulation. I include myself in that group, despite me being an airsoft player.

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