Illegal Firearms (Amnesty)

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:10 pm on 6th March 2003.

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Photo of Sylvia Jackson Sylvia Jackson Labour 3:10 pm, 6th March 2003

To ask the First Minister what impact the amnesty on illegal firearms will have on making communities safer. (S1F-2567)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Next month's amnesty will play a vital part in our fight against gun crime. In the last amnesty, just under 4,000 weapons were surrendered in Scotland, along with 100,000 rounds of ammunition. Every firearm removed from illegal circulation is one less available to terrorise our communities.

Photo of Sylvia Jackson Sylvia Jackson Labour

As the First Minister knows, 23,000 firearms were handed over to police across the United Kingdom in the gun amnesty that followed the Dunblane tragedy. I hope that a similarly large number of deadly weapons will be handed over in the present amnesty. Will the First Minister assure me that the amnesty will be for illegal possession only and not for illegal use? Will he also assure me that any crimes that are found to have been carried out using the weapons that were handed in during the amnesty will be fully investigated?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Absolutely. The amnesty will apply solely to possession and will run for one month. Those who have an illegal gun will be able to bring it in, leave it and not be prosecuted. However, if there is evidence that they have ever used that gun, they will be prosecuted. The amnesty applies only to possession, not to use.