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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 13:27 GMT
McConnell pledges airgun shake-up
Andrew Morton
Andrew Morton's death prompted moves to toughen up gun laws
Legislation on airguns looks set to be tightened following the death of Glasgow toddler Andrew Morton.

The first minister said he will have discussions with the Home Office about introducing a licensing system for airguns or banning them completely.

Jack McConnell told Holyrood that doing nothing about airguns was not an option in Scotland.

Two-year-old Andrew's death in a shooting incident at the start of the month prompted calls for a review.

Mr McConnell said: "We will have proper discussions with the Home Office and ensure that any legislation that comes forward is well thought through and enforceable.

If it's correct to legislate for knives and swords, it's certainly correct to legislate on weapons
Kenny MacAskill MSP
Scottish National Party

"I am aware of the opposition, particularly among police forces in England, to any tightening of the law in relation to licensing or a ban and that position has some sympathy in Scotland among the forces.

"But while legislation might sometimes be difficult to implement, that would not make it wrong.

"If further legislation is required, and if it is in the best interest of Scotland, we will push for that legislation."

Examination of the gun laws is taking place at the Home Office in London because firearms legislation is a Westminster responsibility.

Scottish National Party justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill led a debate at Holyrood calling for a specific Scottish firearms act to deal with the issue.

He said that Scotland has "distinctive" problems with weapons such as replica firearms.

Weapons surrendered

He has called for an act pulling together the laws on rifles, shotguns, pistols, airguns and replica guns.

However, Mr McConnell said: "Their (the SNP's) obsession with constitutional issues rather than the real issues that affect people in Scotland every day knows no bounds.

"Today's debate shows them up for their lack of ideas and lack of contribution to real policy debate."

Mr MacAskill replied: "If it's correct to legislate for knives and swords, it's certainly correct to legislate on weapons."

There was agreement among MSPs that the controls on airguns need to be toughened and that Westminster must act.

Mark Bonini, 27, has appeared in court accused of firing an air weapon or similar instrument at Andrew Morton, whereby he died after being struck on the head by a pellet.

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