Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Sunday, 22 November 2009

MSPs to get power from Westminster to ban air guns

Air gun
Powers over firearms, including air weapons, lie with Westminster

Powers allowing airguns to be banned in Scotland are expected to be handed from Westminster to Holyrood.

It was one of the recommendations of the Calman review of devolution.

Labour welcomed the move, but the Scottish government said the powers could have been transferred to the Scottish Parliament at any time.

The SNP has long argued for airgun powers, saying Scotland has a distinct problem with air weapons which needs to be tackled urgently.

The calls have also been backed by the parents of two-year-old Andrew Morton, who died in 2005 after he was hit in the head by an airgun shot in Easterhouse, Glasgow.

I'll believe it when I see it
Alex Neil
Scottish government minister

Sharon McMillan and Andy Morton have continued to campaign for a change in the law since the incident.

The plans emerged as Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy prepared to give his response to the final report of the Calman Commission, which recommended a number of powers which should be devolved to Scotland.

Reacting to the airgun move, Scottish government minister Alex Neil told BBC Scotland's Politics Show: "I'll believe it when I see it, because what Jim Murphy has made clear is that none of these powers are going to be transferred this side of the election.

"Why there is a delay, I do not understand - this is one of the urgent issues the Scottish Parliament and all parties want to deal with."

In March 2008, the UK government rejected a call from SNP ministers for a review of gun laws.

It also, at the time, declined an invitation to co-host a firearms summit with the Scottish government, saying at the time that gun law had already been tightened and had brought results.

Mr Murphy told BBC Scotland he had tried to put politics aside on the issue of airguns and been in discussion with the UK home secretary on what action could be taken.

He said: "Ken Calman and his commission recommended devolution of airguns.

"I've looked at it very carefully and the fact is there are too many injuries and and horrific tragedies caused by airguns in Scotland and we will make some announcements over the next couple of days as part of the response to Ken Calman's commission."

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said the move was "very good news indeed", but said the SNP had shunned the Calman Commission.

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