Scotland politics

Licensed gun owners fall but the number of firearms held rises

Man with a shotgun
Image caption The number of legally held firearms has increased in Scotland

Scotland has fewer people with firearm licences but they own more guns, the latest statistics have shown.

By the end of last year, 141,569 shotguns were held on certificate along with 72,005 firearms. Those figures represented a 10-year high.

The number of licences issued by the end of 2012 was 48,168, which represented a 10-year low.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the weapons belonged to people who "had a legitimate reason for owning it".

He also made a fresh plea for responsibility for firearms to be devolved to Scotland, as he said it was "still cheaper to buy a firearms licence than a TV licence across the UK".

The figures from Scotland's chief statistician showed that there was an increase in the number of registered firearm dealers in Scotland to 353, a 2% increase on the previous year and the highest total for the last decade.

A total of 1,149 applications were made for a new firearms certificate last year, with all but 12 of these granted.

Meanwhile, 1,926 applications were made for a new shotgun certificate, of which 38 were refused.

Mr MacAskill said: "Scotland's police work extremely hard to make firearms owners aware of their responsibilities and at having the right procedures in place to prevent firearms from being used in criminal ways.

"However, firearms legislation remains reserved and it is still cheaper to buy a firearms licence than a TV licence across the UK.

"While I welcome the moves to tighten this legislation over recent years, there is no doubt that devolving this area will give the Scottish government the powers to better control the number of lethal weapons in society and thereby help to protect and reassure the Scottish public."

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