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MPs to examine firearms licensing in Scotland

Firearms on show after they were handed in at a police station (Lucinda Cameron/PA)
Firearms on show after they were handed in at a police station (Lucinda Cameron/PA)

An inquiry into firearms licensing in Scotland has been launched by the Scottish Affairs Committee.

Announced on Friday, it comes one month after a man was killed in a shooting on the Isle of Skye.

John MacKinnon, 47, was killed after a firearm was discharged, with gunshots also being heard on the mainland at Dornie, Wester Ross.

The responsibility for gun control lies with the Home Office, though applications to own firearms or shotguns are handled by police on a local basis in Scotland.

Tighter gun controls were put in place following the 1996 mass shooting in Dunblane Primary School, which remains the deadliest mass shooting in British history.

In recent years, new statutory guidance on firearms licensing for police has been published, and Police Scotland has called for people to hand in unlicensed and unneeded firearms.

An individual’s medical history, including their mental health, is legally required to be taken into account by the police when applications are assessed.

However, organisations such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation have called for the licensing process to be made smoother and easier for applicants.

Committee chairman Pete Wishart said: “Following the horrific shooting on the Isle of Skye, it is timely that our committee is looking into whether current regulations around the use of firearms are sufficient.

“While such events are incredibly rare, as a result of tight gun controls, it does not lessen the tragedy that the community has experienced.

“The responsible use of firearms is critical for agricultural communities. However, concern has been raised by some organisations that the firearms licensing service is plagued with delays in the processing of applications.”

The committee is inviting written submissions, to be received by October 13, on the adequacy of firearms licensing regulations in Scotland and the extent to which they are relevant to Scotland’s particular circumstances, including its agricultural communities.