Supplementary memorandum by the Scottish
In the absence of any oral evidence to the Home
Affairs Select Committee from Scotland, the Scottish Countryside
Alliance would like to underline some of the points raised in
our original submission. Since the submission of our original
paper, our Shooting committee has had a very meaningful meeting
with ACPOs, and the majority of the points raised in the following
text have the agreement of ACPOs.
The Scottish Countryside Alliance (Shooting
Committee) and ACPOs feel that to consolidate existing Firearm
Legislation before tying to amend or bring in fresh legislation
would be the preferred way forward. With existing legislation
the man in the street and very often the Policeman at the door
does not have a full understanding of the complex laws and amendments
to Acts and Bills which is required to make good understandable
legislation. It is possible that members of the public could be
breaking the law inadvertently.
We understand that a simplified version of firearm
legislation is already in circulation in some constabularies in
Scotland, enabling the inexperienced Police Officer to have more
of an understanding of his duties in relation to Firearms.
We recommend a Consolidation Bill.
In our original submission we asked that you
pay particular attention to the subject of when young people could
gain access to Air Weapons, Shotguns and Firearms. At our meeting
with ACPOs we agreed that the definition that ACPOs had of "not
allowing a young person to use an Air Weapon without supervision
under the age where it was legal to buy an Air Weapon" was
correct and would be supported by the majority of sporting organisations.
Our fear has always been that if we cannot teach our young people
at an early age, then we were likely to lose them from country
sports altogether, and statistics show that when children are
brought up in an environment conducive to country sports and under
the direction of participants of country sports, then that child
goes on to be a better member of society.
We recommend that the age limit should not change.
We discussed this point with ACPOs at our meeting,
and it was decided that local knowledge was vital in assessing
an applicant for a Shotgun or Firearm certificate. It was also
agreed that in Scotland, we did not suffer the anomalies that
occur between different constabularies as they do in England.
The establishment of a central civilian authority
for the registration of all Firearms linked by computer to all
police authorities, would be the most satisfactory solution. We
also feel that the inability of all authorities in Scotland (as
well as in England) to have instant computer links sharing information
with each other was of greater importance for public safety than
any other alterations to the existing Acts.
This central authority, apart from operating
the registration, could also be an advisory centre for the police
and could be the first port of call for any appeal, which would
be preferable to legal appeals, which are very expensive.
We recommend a central civilian authority.
Since our original submission, various reports
have been discussed in the sporting press, as to the implications
of such an act. Without fail all sporting organisations are strongly
in favour of the position that we took in our earlier submission.
If you decide that one certificate makes the administration simpler,
then it must be that firearms are consolidated on the shotgun
certificate, as our priority has to be that the law abiding must
not be penalised in the pursuit of political correctness. The
emphasis must now move away from the weapon and onto the individual,
if a person is deemed to be a suitable person in the eyes of the
law to hold a number of shotguns, then that person must be equally
as suitable to hold a firearm.
The number of incidences of armed crime where
a sporting rifle was used to perpetrate that crime is practically
We recommend that firearms and shotguns be combined
on one certificate (shotgun restrictions).
I would like to reiterate the statement made
in our original submission, that the problem in Great Britain
with firearms is not with the licensed firearms and shotguns,
but with the easy access that the criminal has to illegal arms.
You will be aware also that the majority of crimes reported in
Great Britain are not in the rural areas, but in the inner cities
and urban areas around our large cities. We must direct our energy
in trying to put a halt to the use of illegal weapons and their
circulation within the criminal element of society.
Attached is a paper on the use and transportation
of expanding ammunition, a paper written by the author with help
from other experts in the field of Ballistics, I would urge you
to take into consideration the information and recommendations
Finally may I make a plea on behalf of all legitimate
firearms and shotgun certificate holders? Please look at the evidence
and when you report to the Government, tell them that bad legislation
on top of bad legislation will not achieve anything.