Air-gun Sales

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 1st March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SG 12:00 pm, 1st March 2007

To ask the First Minister, on the eve of the second anniversary of the fatal shooting of toddler Andrew Morton, whether the Scottish Executive considers that general air-gun sales should be banned. (S2F-2752)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Obviously, we have already discussed the issue, Presiding Officer. I reiterate the sense of shock that all of us felt at the tragic shooting of Andrew Morton. We continue to sympathise with the parents, who are with us again in the Parliament. We welcome them today.

Changes in the law will end anonymous internet and mail order sales of air-guns by outlawing any sales that are not conducted on a face-to-face basis; increase the age limit for the ownership of air weapons, yet again, to 18; and tighten the law on the indiscriminate and reckless firing of air-guns from private property. Those changes come on top of the previous change in the law that ensures that people cannot have unreasonable possession of an air-gun outwith their own private property. We welcome all those new laws. We wish to ensure that they are enforced properly by police forces across Scotland. We will also monitor the effectiveness of those new laws. As we do so, we will, of course, consider whether further measures are necessary.

Photo of Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan SG

I thank the First Minister for making the time yesterday to discuss the matter with me. I ask him to join me in paying tribute to the campaigning activities of Sharon McMillan and Andy Morton, the parents of Andrew Morton, and to those of Jacqueline Jack, the sister of Graeme Baxter, who was killed last April in an air-gun shooting.

Given that there have been three fatalities from air-guns in Scotland in the past three years, given that a System 3 opinion poll showed that 82 per cent of people in Scotland support a ban on air-guns, and given that statistics published last week by the Scottish Executive Justice Department show that air-gun-related crimes are at a seven-year high, will the First Minister please give hope to the families who are campaigning for a ban on air-guns by repeating the statement that he made to the Labour Party conference two years ago, when he said that it would be wrong to rule out a total ban on air-guns?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I am happy to repeat that statement. I believe that it would be wrong to rule out a total ban on air-guns. I also believe that the challenge for Scottish police forces in the immediate future is to implement and enforce the laws that were discussed and agreed with them and which have been enacted. It is time for that enforcement to happen.

The Minister for Justice and I will meet the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland this month, to ensure that police forces initially target the areas of Scotland in which there have been the most incidents. We know which parts of the country are most affected by the curse of air-guns and we will ensure that the police forces of Scotland initially target those areas, to minimise the potential for incidents caused by people who mishandle air-guns. If enforcement proves ineffective or is not as effective as we want it to be, of course I do not rule out a total ban in future.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

First Minister's question time started late, so I use my discretion to take question 6.