BASC Scotland raises concerns over firearms licensing report

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has expressed concerns over a potential increase in the cost of firearms licensing applications in Scotland, following the publication of a Westminster committee report.

The Scottish Affairs Committee’s report, published today, draws together a conclusion following its recent inquiry on firearms licensing regulations in Scotland. The committee’s inquiry was established in the aftermath of a tragic shooting on the Isle of Skye earlier this year.

The report sets out recommendations including the introduction of a two-tier application system and the alignment of existing shotgun licensing legislation, which BASC strongly opposed, challenged and gave evidence against.

The recommendations are outside of Scotland’s devolved powers on firearms licensing and in order for them to progress any further, significant legislative change would need to be enacted by the UK Government.

Martin Parker, BASC’s head of firearms, said: “A massive amount of work would be required in order for these recommendations to become law. To enact them would require a significant and substantial legislative change at Westminster, despite there being very little evidence to prove these changes would be constructive or beneficial in terms of public safety.”

On application fees, the committee argued that individuals who use firearms for recreation should pay the full cost of their applications, and others who use firearms for their employment or other work purposes could continue to have their applications partly-funded.

BASC Scotland raised concerns that the enhanced costs brought about by a two-tier system would deter recreational shooters, who contribute significantly to the rural economy.

BASC also has concerns over the proposal to bring shotgun certification in Scotland in line with firearms certification. The organisation believes there is not adequate or sufficient evidence to suggest that such a proposal will deliver any enhanced benefit.

Recommendations on improving mental health assessment were welcomed, as recently the Scottish Firearms Licensing Practitioners Group, of which BASC is a member, provided information on mental health support in a joint leaflet with Police Scotland.

Peter Clark, BASC Scotland’s public affairs manager, said:

“BASC Scotland was grateful for the opportunity to contribute both written and oral evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee on its review into firearms licensing regulations.

“As the committee pointed out, the current system ‘overwhelmingly’ works well, and it recognises that offences involving a firearm are ‘very rare’.

“We have concerns over some of the recommendations in the report, namely those centring on a potential increase in cost for shooters and the alignment of shotgun and firearms licensing in Scotland.

“We believe the system is fit-for-purpose as it stands, and the introduction of increased application fees or the alignment of shotgun and firearms certification will do nothing further to improve public safety.

“We will continue to inform MPs and Ministers of our concerns as they scrutinise these recommendations in the coming months.”