Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Ministers attack gun 'inaction'

Air guns
Mr MacAskill said the law around air and replica guns was too confusing

The Scottish Government has said it will not "sit on its hands" in the face of what it claims is Westminster inaction over firearm laws.

The justice secretary made the claim as he launched a drive to highlight the penalties for air or replica gun crime.

The SNP has called on Westminster to devolve airgun legislation or agree a pilot licensing scheme for air weapons.

The Home Office said it had concerns about firearms law in Scotland differing from England and Wales.

A spokeswoman said "different regimes would introduce an additional layer of complexity and greater bureaucracy".

'More damage'

However, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill insisted the law surrounding air and replica guns was too confusing and needed to be reformed.

"The home secretary refuses to either do this or devolve the powers so that the Scottish Government can," he said.

"That doesn't mean that we'll sit on our hands and watch as these weapons cause more damage in Scottish communities.

"This campaign will help to educate people about the potential penalties and consequences of misusing these guns."

The campaign, which will be launched in Edinburgh, will include adverts in public toilets and online gaming, posters and a dedicated website.

'Strengthened controls'

Dr Mick North of the Gun Control Network, whose five-year-old daughter Sophie died in the Dunblane Primary School shootings, attended the event, along with representatives from animal welfare body the SSPCA.

Representatives from rural and sport shooting interests, including the British Association of Shooting and Conservation and Scottish Target Shooting, were also in attendance.

The Liberal Democrats has backed the SNP's call for firearms legislation to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Its justice spokesman Robert Brown said: "Raising awareness of their dangers is important, but we need to see more control over who actually owns an airgun."

The Home Office spokeswoman said: "The UK Government is concerned about the misuse of airguns, which is why we have strengthened controls significantly.

"It is now an offence to sell an airgun to a person under 18 or for somebody under 18 to purchase one and businesses which sell airguns are required to register with the police and to keep details of all purchasers."



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