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Firearms Offences

Volume 12: debated on Wednesday 11 November 1981

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40.

asked the Solicitor General for Scotland how many prosecutions for offences involving firearms have been initiated since January 1981.

As many of the offences in which firearms are used are charged under the common law headings of assault and robbery, murder, attempted murder and so on, it would not be possible to obtain the information requested except at disproportionate cost. What can be said, however, is that in relation to serious offences involving the use of firearms, 29 cases which involved their use have been dealt with in the High Court so far this year.

Will my hon. and learned Friend accept that, for the High Court, those are disturbingly high figures? Will he take this opportunity to confirm that the Government will do all in their power to assist the police and the courts in bringing such offenders to justice?

Yes, Sir. Both sides of the House and many people outside regard the use of firearms in the pursuit of crime as particularly obnoxious. We should be thankful that our legislation has controlled it so far as it has. It is disturbing that a number of organisations claiming to have political or terrorist interests have resorted to the use of firearms in the pursuit of their abominable aims.

Does the Solicitor-General accept that the figures that he has given would be worse if they included offences involving air weapons? Will he take steps to include those weapons in the firearms laws, particularly with regard to licensing?

That is an important matter. However, the figures include air weapons. The total figures include the theft of air weapons, their use and so on. If a person is a victim—a bank employee or whatever—he does not decide whether an air weapon, a rifle or a revolver is being used. It is the use of weapons that is particularly obnoxious, and we want to do everything to control it.