McBansturbation

As we’re on the subject of gun crime at the moment, its worth pointing out that Scotland has its own moral panic, unseemly bout of political opportunism and proposal for a bit of McBansturbation playing out by the numbers at the moment, albeit one in which its airguns and not handguns in the role of pantomime villain.

The story actually begins in March 2005 with the murder of two year old Andrew Morton of Easterhouse, Glasgow, who was shot in the head by a 27 year old drug addict, Mark Bonini. The weapon used, in what appears to have been a random shooting – Bonini claimed in court that it was an accident but pleaded guilty to ‘culpable homicide’, an offence that exists only under Scottish law – was an airgun.

The aftermath of this shooting is instantly recognisable as a ‘by the numbers’ moral panic.

The Scottish press decided, as newspapers always do that ‘something must be’ done.

The child’s parents appear to have decided that nothing but a total ban on airguns will suffice as legislative weregild for the loss of dead son, even if a headstone and bench in the local park would be more traditional and much less hassle.

And the politicians in the Scottish Parliament started falling over themselves in their efforts to suck up to press and the dead kid’s family.

Oh, and Bonini got sent down for life with a minimum tariff of 13 years – the dead boy’s mother thought he should have got 25 years minimum.

Two years on and proposals for a complete ban on airguns, except for some that would be licensed for competition shooting and pest control, is still waiting in the wings, while the politicians North of the Border wait to see if legislation which comes into force next October to tighten controls on the sale of airguns has any measurable impact.

The dead kid’s family still want a total ban. The Scottish press, in the form of the Scotsman were reporting, last March, that:

Airgun crime in Scotland is at a seven-year high, with three fatalities in the last two years, including the death of Andrew Morton, the two-year-old Glasgow toddler who was shot in the head by Mark Bonini.

And last week, a 72 year old man was shot and killed by a 17 year old dickhead, using an airgun, after unfounded rumours that he’d molested a teenage girl were spread around his local area – paedogeddon and gun crime, it’s an unmissable combination.

All of which brings us up to date, and to today’s addition to the catalogue of squalid opportunism in which:

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told Radio Scotland it was vital airguns were removed from general circulation.
The executive want to bring in a licensing system for all new sales of airguns and restrict their use to sporting or gun clubs or for those working in areas like pest control.

Although new rules governing the ownership of airguns will take effect across the UK in October, the executive believe Scotland has a distinct problem with the weapons.

Mr MacAskill is arguing that Holyrood needs more powers to tackle the issue head on.

He said: “There is a distinct problem in Scotland with regard to air weapons in particular.

“We believe that we need to update an act that’s predicated to some extent on an act back in 1968 with many amendments since then, to have an act that’s fit for purpose in the 21st century.”

Scotland does, indeed, have a ‘distinct problem with airguns’ – actuall;y it has two distinct problems, the first being that that both Scottish politicians and the Scottish press have been bullshitting the Scottish public like crazy when it comes to the facts about airgun-related offences North of the Border.

The facts are that between 1995 and 2004/5, the number of recorded firearms offences in Scotland involving airguns fell from 1139 in 1995 to 486 in 2004/5 – the figures actually bottomed out in 2002/3, in which year there were only  329 such offences.

So far as injuries arising from airgun offences are concerned, one finds much the same trend – these fell from 355 in 1995 to a mere 94 in 2004/5.

As for homicides involving airguns, figures are available only from 2002 onward, during which period Scotland has averaged one such homicide a year. 2004/5 was, in fact, the peak year for airgun homicides – there were two.

To put this into context, the estimated total population of Scotland in mid 2006 was 5,116,900, of whom around 4 million are over the age of 18.

The ‘seven year high’ figure cited by the Scotsman is for 2005/6, the year immediately following the death of Andrew Morton, during which there were 618 recorded offences, 120 injuries and just the one homicide, this being the death of 32 year old Graham Baxter, who was shot by his friend, Michael Loran, who was subsequently convicted on a charge of culpable homicide.

Everything you need to know about this case can be summed up in the following two paragraphs, taken from the BBC’s report of Loren’s conviction:

At the time, both men had a blood alcohol level three-and-a-half times the legal limit for drivers.

Police found the walls and woodwork of Loran’s house peppered with pellets.

So Loren shot his pissed-up friend – who has a learning difficulty as well – while in the process of drunkenly shooting up his own home with an airgun. This may have gone down, legally, as culpable homicide but there can be little doubt that the actual cause of Baxter’s death in the this case was that he was friends with a complete and utter dumbass twat.

Given that this ‘seven year high’ was recorded in the year after Morton’s death, a year in which both the media and politicians were crawling over the whole airgun thing, would be unreasonable to suggest that much, if not most of the increase in this year was the result of somewhat more zealous policing by officers keen to be seen to be responding to demands that ‘something must be done’ rather than, as is being claimed, that Scotland has a ‘distinct problem with airguns.’

The second ‘distinct problem’ in all this is, simply and obviously, that factual evidence doesn’t support the SNP’s contention that Scotland has a distinct airgun problem at all, in fact so far as the SNPs motivation in all this is concerned, aside from the obvious dick-swinging that is, these days, a mandatory requirement for all politicians talking about law and order, the key to understanding why they’re so keen on banning airguns is likely to be found in this statement:

Mr MacAskill is arguing that Holyrood needs more powers to tackle the issue head on.

In other words, the particular bandwagon that the SNP are climbing on here is the one in which this proposed, and unnecessary, blanket ban on airguns provides a plausible sounding, but factually spurious, justification for efforts to try and wheedle a bit more power and authority out of Westminster.

Once upon a time, the Scots went into battle with the English, for the prize of independence, wielding a claymore – these days its a dead kid’s coffin – my, how times have changed.

  • And On

    I’ve seen the official stats on gun related injuries in Scotland over the past few years – terrifying, if you’re an escaped cow facing a police sniper, but they make England look like the Somme.

  • Katherine

    So, if an airgun crime was committed against a paedophile, does that make it okay again? Oh to be in the head of a right-winger on that one.

  • epsilon

    Given your admirable posts about Simon ‘Steve Freedom’ Smith’s true intentions- which may yet have helped break the West Midlands BNP in two- and the way you outed faux-poet David Bartley as a racist, Unity, no-one could call you anything other than internationalist in every way.

    Which is why that it is a pity that this reads like a non-Scot telling Scots politicians in a Scottish Executive elected by Scots residents what to do with their own internal politics.

    So what if Salmond and MacAskill are playing to the gallery? SNP Leaders Try To Embarass Westminster Labour Leadership Shocker. Well, I never!

    The real fact here is that Jack Straw-recognising the strength of fervour in Scotland- flew to Holyrood to see Salmond for talks on the matter. There is a difference- as he subtly showed- between giving Salmond the upper hand in some skewed morality tale , and ignoring the views of the broad opinion of Scotland.

    For the record, I believe that firearms powers should be devolved to Holyrood- but that this should have been the case from the start.