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Give us powers for a gun crackdown.

Byline: By BILLY PATERSON

THE Scottish Executive last night urged Westminster to introduce tough laws to crack down on airgun shootings and drug-related gun crime in Scotland.

They want a Firearms Act for "Scottish needs and Scottish circumstances".

Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, said the spiralling number of airgun attacks was a scourge that needs to be addressed "immediately".

Mr MacAskill wants to modernise gun laws which have not changed since the 1960s. He said: "We want air weapons licensed for new sales. The only people who should be allowed one are members of registered sporting clubs or who have a need for pest and vermin control.

"Obviously we do have a particular problem in Scotland with airguns. But we need power over all firearms.

"We need to update and modernise the Firearms Act for the 21st century.

"And also in Scotland we need to address the growing problem of gun crimes related to the drug trade." Mr MacAskill wants an Act which will answer simple but crucial questions:

What qualifies as a gun.

Who is allowed to have one.

How and where one can be acquired.

Where the owner keeps it.

First Minister Alex Salmond met with Westminster Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw last month to discuss the issues.

Mr Salmond's spokesman said: "There has been constructive dialogue on enabling the Scots Parliament to lay a framework for a Firearms Act for Scottish needs and circumstances."

Scots Secretary Des Browne said: "Our priority is to work with the Executive to ensure all UK communities are protected from gun crime.

"The Home Office has been working hard to tighten up the legislative framework on airguns through the Violent Crime Reduction Act."

Andrew Morton, two, was murdered when shot in the head with an airgun in Glasgow in March 2005. A month later, Graeme Baxter, 32, of East Calder, died after being shot in the heart.

The families of both victims handed in an 11,000-signature petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for a ban on the personal ownership of airguns.

Scotland banned handguns following the Dunblane massacre in March 1996 - after a Sunday Mail campaign.

Amonth after the horror, our petition with an astonishing 428,279 signatures was handed in to the Government.

CAPTION(S):

Law call: MacAskill; Priority: Des Browne
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 26, 2007
Words:384
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