Firearms licensing to be examined in Scotland after Skye shooting

The responsibility for gun control rests with the UK Government Home Office, while policing is a devolved matter. 

Firearms licensing to be examined in Scotland by MPs at Scottish Affairs Committee after Skye shooting iStock

An inquiry into the licensing of firearms has been launched by the Scottish Affairs Committee, one month after a man was killed in a shooting on the Isle of Skye.

Last month, 47-year-old John Mackinnon was killed after a firearm was discharged.

The responsibility for gun control rests with the UK Government Home Office, while policing is a devolved matter. 

As such, local police forces handle applications to own firearms or shotguns 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 unneeded and unlicensed 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, while organisations note that the UK has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, some stakeholders such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation have called for firearms licensing to be made smoother and easier for applicants.

The committee plans to hold two evidence sessions as part of this inquiry, with further details will be announced in due course.

 Committee chair, Pete Wishart MP, 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.

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