New licensing laws passed
Act includes more robust controls on air weapons.
A Bill to tighten access to air weapons in Scotland and other measures to improve public safety has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill sets out new rules for a range of topics including air weapons, scrap metal dealers and alcohol.
It is estimated that there are currently around half a million unlicensed air weapons in Scotland. The new laws will:
- Clearly define the air weapons which will be subject to licensing
- Broadly follow the principles and practices of existing firearms legislation
- Enable a fit person to obtain a licence to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon without compromising public safety
- Ensure appropriate enforcement of the new regime with robust penalties to deal with any person who contravenes the regime
Alongside air weapons, the new Act also covers:
- Scrap metal dealers – clamping down on metal theft through a tighter licensing regime for scrap metal dealers, including new rules that will prevent cash payments
- Alcohol – creating new offences of giving, or making available, alcohol to a child or young person for consumption in a public place
- Sexual entertainment venues – introducing a new licensing regime for lap dancing venues allowing greater local control over their number and operation
- Civic – creating a new role of Civic Licensing Standards Officer to help enforce civic licensing regimes
Prior to the debate this afternoon, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson met with the family of Andrew Morton who was killed with an air weapon in 2005, aged two.
Speaking after the debate Mr Matheson said:
“I am delighted that Parliament has today agreed new laws to address the problems that air weapons can cause to individuals and communities if they are in the wrong hands. Meeting the family of Andrew Morton brings home the tragic consequences that irresponsible attitudes towards air weapons can have.
“This Government has a long-standing commitment to eradicate gun crime in Scotland. We lobbied the UK Government for control over air weapon legislation and gained these powers in 2012. I am delighted that this legislation to tighten air weapon control has now been passed.
“Such tragic cases as the Morton family have had to endure are, thankfully, very rare, but every day police, the public and animal welfare groups have to face the results of air weapon misuse, ranging from anti-social behaviour to horrific and deliberate injuries to wildlife and pets.
“Offences involving air weapons rose for the first time in seven years in 2013-14 and accounted for almost half of all offences involving a firearm. This new legislation will better protect our communities by taking these potentially lethal weapons out of the hands of those who would misuse them.
“We are not banning air weapons outright, but ensuring that their use is properly regulated and users have a legitimate reason for them. We believe this legislation strikes the right balance between protecting communities and allowing legitimate shooting in a safe environment to continue.
“This new legislation also tackles other areas of licensing, including reducing metal theft by strengthening a licensing regime for scrap metal dealers, more robust alcohol provisions for pubs, clubs and retailers, and the powers for local authorities to decide on the numbers of sexual entertainment venues in their area. At the heart of our licensing legislation is our aim to support and encourage legitimate businesses whilst protecting public health and safety and empowering our communities.”
Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said:
“Our focus is to keep people safe, and the vast majority of people who own air weapons in Scotland are law abiding citizens who conduct themselves in a responsible manner.
“There are, however, a small number of people who use air weapons either recklessly or with criminal intent. We welcome the introduction of this legislation which will provide greater control over air weapons in Scotland and will also help us keep people safe by reducing the number of them falling into the wrong hands.”
The air weapons legislation affects anyone who currently owns an air weapon and wants to continue to do so, those buying new air weapons and those who wish to bring an air weapon into Scotland, for example to competitions or on holiday.
Other provisions in the new Act with reference to scrap metal, sexual entertainment venues, alcohol and civic licensing, were all the subject of public consultation, as well as dialogue with relevant stakeholders.