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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 14:58 GMT
UK rejection over gun laws review
Gun
Holyrood ministers will go ahead with the firearms summit
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has rejected Scottish Government calls for a review of gun laws.

She also declined an invitation to co-host a firearms summit with Scots Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

Firearms control is reserved to Westminster, but Holyrood ministers said Scotland had a distinct problem, especially in relation to airguns.

UK Scottish Secretary Des Browne told BBC Scotland that gun law had already been tightened and had brought results.

Mr MacAskill, who will press ahead with the summit, accused Mrs Smith of "complacency" - a claim Mr Browne described as a "gross distortion".

We have people in Scotland who aspire to government but are more interested in grievances and arguments with the UK Government
Des Browne
UK Scottish Secretary

"I'm disappointed our invitation has been rejected and concerned that the home secretary says a review isn't needed now," Mr MacAskill said.

The most recent figures, the justice secretary stated, revealed firearms casualties in Scotland rose by 25% in a year, with one in three of the victims being children.

"Communities across Scotland, indeed across the UK, will be alarmed by the apparent complacency. The response is worrying for those of us who sought a partnership approach," he added.

The death of two-year-old Andrew Morton in Easterhouse, Glasgow, three years ago met with widespread public shock after he was hit in the head by an airgun shot.

Mark Bonini, 27, was jailed for his murder and the youngster's parents, Sharon McMillan and Andy Morton, have campaigned for a change in the law.

Andrew Morton
Andrew Morton was hit in the head with an airgun pellet

Mr MacAskill wrote to the home secretary in January inviting her to join the Scottish Government in gathering police, gun control campaigners and shooting interests for a summit on firearms misuse.

Ms Smith said she did "not believe it would be timely to hold a joint national firearms summit" and dismissed calls for an immediate review of the 1968 Firearms Act.

Mr Browne told BBC Scotland's Politics Show statistical evidence for England and Wales showed gun law changes seemed to have had some effect, in particular airguns, which he described as the "obsession" of the Scottish Government.

He argued airgun offences in England and Wales were at a seven-year low, and that the way evidence was collected in Scotland had changed.

"We have people in Scotland who aspire to government but are more interested in grievances and arguments with the UK Government than they are in getting on with the challenges that the people of Scotland know are their priorities," Mr Browne added.

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