2 May, 2015 – Bit late in the day with this editorial but there isn’t really much to say when it comes to the election on May 7th. The SNP with the help of Labour are currently trying to licence airguns in Scotland, so that rules them out. One would like to think the Liberals would remember their rural roots, maybe some of their candidates do (so ask). UKIP is well, UKIP. A lot of their candidates favour shooting, but it’s hard to see how they can win in more than a few constituencies. That leaves the Tories, David Cameron is a shooter, and so he’s been subject to this sort of rubbish. He also stood in the way of the new Fees Order for some time. And he did follow through on the promise to allow some Olympic hopefuls to get section 5 authority for their pistols.
However, let us not forget the Tories were responsible for most of the handgun ban back in 1997 as well as the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 as well as various other bits of foolishness. So if you’re going to vote Tory, please check with your candidate first as to where they stand.
Much more importantly, check with your Labour candidate because there appears to be a schism between the party in Scotland and the party in England & Wales on the subject of licensing airguns. If your local candidate supports doing that, then obviously vote for someone else, if they say they’re against it, try and get it in writing and send it to BASC Scotland.
The licensing Bill, which includes airgun licensing (and various other types of licensing) unfortunately sailed through Stage One debate as it is known in the Scottish Parliament, unfortunately Labour have decided to support it as well, so any chance of any real changes to the Bill have completely evaporated. The SNP did at least decide not to follow the recommendation of the standing committee that airguns should be given unique identifying marks. Because that is obviously barking mad, especially given that some airguns are largely made of plastic.
In an absolutely bizarre move, Police Scotland have decided to slash the number of firearm enquiry officers. Yes, you read that correctly – on the eve of the introduction of a new licensing system that will require many thousands of licenses to be issued, the police have laid off the staff who will be responsible for doing the licensing. Words fail me.
No more ACPO
Well, sort of. It’s still around but they’ve changed the name to the: “NPCC”. Which stands for: “National Pissing Contest for Constabularies”. Er no, it stands for: “Narcissistic Police Chiefs’ Cabal”. “Nearly Pointless Coppers’ Committee”.
But anyway the National Police Chiefs’ Council will apparently spend the grants they get more wisely. Personally I think that could have been assured if they reported to Parliament, but they won’t be.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary will be having a nose around a few licensing depts. I sincerely hope that one of them is Durham Constabulary, which was slated by the IPCC. Ooh, and how about Surrey Police. And how about Gwent Police?
Suffice to say this HMIC report should make for interesting reading. What I’d really like is for them to say that firearm licensing should be removed from the police and put into the hands of an independent agency, but given that would put HMIC out of part of their job, I doubt that’s going to happen.
“During the course of the investigation, staff spoken to across each of the respective roles within the Firearms Licensing Unit commented that they had received little or no formal training by Durham Constabulary.” – para. 187, Mr Michael Atherton – IPCC investigation into the granting, management and review of his shotgun certificate and firearm licence by Durham Constabulary.