Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Sunday, 8 June 2008 01:20 UK

Plan to restrict sales of airguns

Air guns
Firearms legislation is reserved to Westminster

A pilot scheme restricting the sale of airguns in Scotland could be brought in to stop firearms getting a "grip" on communities.

Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith seeking permission for such a scheme to stop irresponsible air weapon use.

In the letter, he suggested that it could play an important part of a wider review of UK gun controls.

Ms Smith has previously rejected Mr McAskill's call for a gun laws review.

A firearms summit was held in Edinburgh last month which Ms Smith declined to attend saying that firearms legislation was reserved to Westminster.

The parents of toddler Andrew Morton, who was killed by an airgun pellet three years ago, were among those who went to the event hosted by Mr McAskill.

We must not and will not allow firearms to get a grip on our communities
Kenny McAskill
Justice secretary

He said there was a consensus on the need to urgently overhaul the current complex firearms legal framework, which is based on 40-year-old legislation.

Mr McAskill added: "Any reformed firearms regime must incorporate stronger controls on air weapons - given that they are used in around half of all firearms offences.

"While Westminster has refused to consider transferring legislative responsibility for firearms to Scotland, they should allow us to pilot such reforms if they are unwilling or unable to proceed themselves at this stage.

"This is not about radically different approaches either side of the border, but about working collectively to tackle the real concerns in our communities."

Mr McAskill wants an overhaul of the Firearms Act 1968 which would restrict sales of airguns and said Scottish Government officials were planning to meet their Irish counterparts to discuss how air weapons are controlled under their laws.

He said: "Clearly there are legitimate uses for firearms and we don't want to impede those.

"But further action must be taken to stop these weapons from falling into the wrong hands - as well as to tackle the mindset of those who carry them without any good reason.

"Quite simply, we must not and will not allow firearms to get a grip on our communities."

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