Thursday, January 17, 2008

Joint summit on firearms reform laws planned

Firearms summit invite by MacAskill goes nowhere.

The Herald reports :

Scotland plans joint summit on reform of firearms laws

WILLIAM TINNING January 17 2008

Scotland is to host a summit to identify how the law on firearms, including air weapons, can best be reformed.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who was seized on last week by Scottish ministers after announcing proposed gun law reform at Westminster, has been invited by Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill to jointly host the summit .

The Scottish Government said a date for the summit would be confirmed for later this year once gun control campaigners, rural and shooting groups, law enforcement officials and other interested parties had been contacted.

It is claimed that the summit aims to support a "comprehensive review of our firearms controls and laws" - making them simpler to understand, administer and enforce, as envisaged in the 2004 Home Office consultation.

Dr Mick North, Sharon McMillan and Andy Morton, all of whom have campaigned for tougher, more-effective firearms controls, are due to meet Mr MacAskill today ahead of a debate on the issue in the Scottish Parliament.

Despite welcome past reforms, no government can say the job is done

Dr North's five-year-old daughter Sophie was among 16 children and a teacher who were killed by gunman Thomas Hamilton at Dunblane Primary School in 1996.

Mr Morton and Ms McMillan are the parents of Andrew Morton, who was aged two when he was killed by an air gun while playing near his home in Glasgow in 2005.

Mr MacAskill last week welcomed Ms Smith's plans to ban deactivated guns by the end of the year. She said exemptions could be made for responsible collectors of deactivated firearms. It is estimated that there are 120,000 such guns in Britain.

However, the Justice Minister said at the time that the UK Government's refusal to devolve control of firearms to the Scottish Parliament, or at the very least to allow the parliament to legislate on air guns, was "extremely disappointing".

Commenting on yesterday's announcement of plans to host a firearms law reform summit in Scotland, Mr MacAskill said: "Communities across Scotland are crying out for tougher action to tackle the spread and misuse of firearms, in particular air weapons.

"Despite welcome past reforms, no responsible government can say the job is done. Not when firearms casualties in Scotland rose by one-quarter last year - one in three of them children - and when cases of attempted murder involving firearms are almost three times that of a decade ago."

A Home Office spokeswoman yesterday said the Home Secretary had not yet received any formal invitation and would therefore not comment on whether or not she would be able to attend

No comments: