by Paula Murray
A TOUGH new blitz on gun crime in Scotland will be a key justice measure in the SNP’s election manifesto, the Scottish Sunday Express has learned.
Under the plans, every new firearm would be registered in a database designed to crack down on armed criminals. The scheme will record the ballistic ‘DNA’ of each gun sold in Britain so that they can be instantly traced.
The Nationalists will also promise to set up a tough licensing regime for airguns north of the Border, to ensure they do not fall into the hands of criminals.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskil unveiled the pledges to this newspaper yesterday ahead of the party’s Paisley youngsters manifesto launch later this week.
The move comes in the wake of a supermarket shooting in Holland yesterday that left six dead and 16 injured, and came shortly after a gunman opened fire on a Scots nuclear submarine in Southampton.
Mr MacAskill said that the stringent measures were aimed at cracking down on gun crime and preventing further shootings in Scotland.
He added: “Gun crime is a serious and tragic problem.
“The creation of a ballistics DNA database would boost policing intelligence about who buys guns used to commit crime, and therefore help deter gun use and better enable the criminals to be, arrested, tried and punished.” The database would be set up together with the Coalition Government, as most areas of gun control are still reserved to
However the SNP said ministers would seek early meetings with the Home Office if re-elected and are hopeful of a “sympathetic” response.
All new guns would be testfired before being sold to record the unique marks or scratches the gun leaves on the bullet it fires, allowing “each and every firearm in Scotland to be tracked”.
Meanwhile, the new Scotland Bill – the biggest transfer of power to Holyrood since Devolution – is already set to give MSPs control over airguns.
The SNP wants to use those powers to set up a licensing scheme “so that only those with a legitimate reason, such as sport or pest control, will be able to own an airgun”.
Mr MacAskill said: “Crime has been reduced to a 32-year low, and a re-elected SNP Government wi l l continue working to make Scotland safer. We will use our new powers to crack down on air weapons.”
Last year air we ap ons accounted for more than half of all offences involving firearms in Scotland.
According to some estimates, there are at least 500,000 air weapons in the country and there have been many calls for them to be banned altogether.
They have caused a number of injuries and deaths, including that of Glasgow toddler Andrew Morton, who was just two when he was killed by an airgun pellet six years ago.
However, handguns and other types of firearms have also scarred Scotland’s streets in recent years in a string of high-profile shootings and murders.
And last year there calls for an urgent review of firearms laws after it was revealed a 10-yearold schoolboy was one of 34 chi ldren given a shotgun certificate in Scotland.
The SNP’s ultimate aim is to have all firearms law handed over to MSPs at Holyrood.
Mr MacAskill said: “With complete powers, we could replace the current confusing array of firearm laws with a single all-encompassing Act to provide clarity for the police and improve public safety.”
Gill Marshall-Andrews, from campaign group Gun Control Network, said that any moves to restrict the use and movement of arms was to be welcomed.
She said the idea of “ballistic fingerprinting” made sense but added: “To reduce gun crime, action must be taken on airguns because they kill.
“But certainly these plans sound like a move towards the right direction.”
Published with thanks to the Sunday Express Scotland