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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 19:03 GMT
Air weapon ban proposals rejected
Air guns
The government wants action on gun laws in Scotland
A Scottish Government call to extend the ban on guns to include air weapons has been rejected by parliament.

The move came as campaigners welcomed ministers' plans for a summit on firearms laws, reserved to Westminster.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he was concerned at a recent rise in gun crime.

There were 247 firearms incidents resulting in death or injury in Scotland last year, a rise of 25% on the year before.

It is hoped Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, as well as police, farmers and shooting clubs will attend the summit, to be held as soon as possible.

It's very difficult for anybody to understand and get a complete picture of how we control firearms in this country
Dr Mick North
Firearms campaigner

The move was also welcomed by Dr Mick North, whose daughter Sophie, five, was killed in the Dunblane massacre, as well as Andy Morton and Sharon McMillan, who have campaigned for a ban on airguns since the death of their two-year-old son Andrew.

Meanwhile, MSPs voted down a government motion calling for action to ban the ownership and use of all firearms and air weapons, other than for recognised and legitimate occupational and sporting interests.

In parliament, Mr MacAskill accused the UK Government of failing to tackle the misuse of firearms and air weapons, saying that Scotland wanted tougher action which would see them licensed in the same way as all firearms.

"If London wants to take action, that is fine. But do it they must. If not, they must give the powers to us to do so," he said.

Andrew Morton
Two-year-old Andrew Morton was killed by an airgun

Labour justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill described the airgun issue as a "UK problem with a distinctly Scottish trend", but insisted a review of restrictions should be UK-wide.

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said Mr MacAskill had put up a good argument, but argued that the issue ultimately came down to policing.

For the Liberal Democrats, Mike Pringle said a gun "used in a crime in Edinburgh might next be used in Manchester", adding that the Westminster Government was best placed to tackle the issue of real concern - controlling illegal guns getting into the UK in the first place.

Dr North said it was important to get all sides of the debate round the table to discuss firearms legislation.

Backing the summit, Ms McMillan said: "We really need to go forward with this, it's been left for too long and the longer we leave these things the more incidents happen and it won't be long before another death occurs."


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