MacAskill Presses London for Overhaul of "Convoluted" Firearms Law
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has urged the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith review firearms legislation, which he says is complex, convoluted and in need of an overhaul.
Updating Ms Smith on the recent firearms summit, hosted by the First Minister and Justice Secretary in Edinburgh, Mr MacAskill said the discussions - which included police, gun control campaigners, shooting interests and opposition MSPs - underlined the need to overhaul the current complex legal framework, based on the 1968 Firearms Act.
"The Home Secretary has previously expressed a wish to work closely with us and other interests, so I hope she will consider the views that emerged from the summit and work with all of us on this important issue," MacAskill said.
"It was clear that those around the table each had a unique role to play in addressing the misuse of firearms. There was also agreement that the existing firearms law is complex, convoluted and in need of overhaul.
"We need a robust regime - one that is more straightforward for legitimate users to comply with, one that is more efficient for our police to administer and enforce and above all one with a much greater focus on public safety.
"That's why it is time for the comprehensive review of our firearms controls and laws, as promised in the 2004 Home Office consultation.
"The Irish Government has kindly offered to assist us in considering these issues. My officials will be meeting with them to discuss the approach there, where airguns are dealt with in the same way as other firearms.
"While Westminster has refused to consider transferring legislative responsibility for firearms to Scotland, they should allow us to pilot such reforms if they are unwilling or unable to proceed themselves at this stage.
"This is not about radically different approaches either side of the border, but about working collectively to tackle the real concerns in our communities.
"In the meantime, we are developing a public information campaign to highlight the social and legal impact of airguns misuse and to urge people to consider carefully their need to possess firearms and, indeed imitations.
"Clearly there are legitimate uses for firearms and we don't want to impede those. But further action must be taken to stop these weapons from falling into the wrong hands - as well as to tackle the mindset of those who carry them without any good reason.
"That requires both legislative reform and non-legislative action to tackle the wider culture of violence that also fuels weapons crime.
"Quite simply, we must not and will not allow firearms to get a grip on our communities."