This law is not only most welcome but it is absolutely essential for public safety, especially after the deeply shocking case of two-year-old Andrew Morton who was tragically killed by an airgun pellet in Glasgow in 2005.
It's pretty disgraceful that it took them more than 10 years to outlaw these dangerous weapons but I suppose that's another story for another time. The wheels of justice move slowly as they say.
And in anticipation of the new law, Police Scotland have set up an 'air weapons surrender scheme' where anyone who wants to hand in their weapon can do so.
It's supposed to be a very simple process - as you'll see from the Police Scotland informational video at the end of this post - but as I have found out, it is NOT quite as simple as police claim it to be.
The process is most definitely NOT the same as police described in their video. They have not been honest with the public at all about how they're conducting the 'air weapons surrender scheme'.
Because today, 30th December 2016, I telephoned Police Scotland on 101 to inform them that a family member (who has since sadly passed away) owned an airgun that I would like them to dispose of.
The officer I spoke to on the 101 number, Katie, was very pleasant and informative. She asked me to wrap the weapon up in a black bin bag (just as they show in the police video) so as not to alarm members of the public as I transport it to my nearest police station (Shettleston police station in Glasgow's east end).
She also advised that if I didn't feel comfortable walking in to a police station with an airgun in my hand(!) I should leave it in the boot of the car, locked, safe, and out of sight, while I go in to the police station and inform them about it. Officers would then simply come out to my car and get the weapon and dispose of it for me.
Good sound advice. So far, so good.
So off I went a few minutes later, down to Shettleston police station in Glasgow with the weapon safely wrapped up in a couple of black bin bags in the boot of my car, just as PC Katie had advised.
However when I arrived at the station, the process turned out to be NOT quite as straightforward as you'd think. It was most certainly NOT the easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy way of surrendering a weapon you see police describe in their video.
Heres' what police really do when you try to surrender an airgun weapon to them.
First, as soon as you walk in to the police station and tell them you would like to surrender an airgun they ask you for ALL your personal details, your name, your address, your date of birth, and your telephone number. Hmmm, no mention of that in the police video. How strange.
They then ask you to take a seat in the reception area and disappear in to the back office of the police station for a few minutes, no doubt to run your name, address, date of birth, and telephone number through their police computer to see who's handing this weapon in and if you may be a 'person of interest' to them.
Now if you're like me and have had very unpleasant dealings with untrustworthy Police Scotland in the past, you'll know from experience that when a copper disappears in to the back office of a police station with a bit of paper on which he's written your name, address, date of birth, and phone number (especially when you've just turned up there to surrender a firearm), he's probably not adding you to his Christmas card list!
No, it's a no brainer - he's checking you out and entering your info in to the police 'intelligence' database. So now police have, forever more, a 'note' on their intelligence files that you are someone who used to possess a weapon in the past (and I'll go on to tell you exactly why they do that a little further down the page).
Finally, they return from the back office and ask you to put your signature at the bottom of a blank form. Yip, you read that correctly - a blank form.
All the other questions/details on the form are to be left blank and you're not given any opportunity to fill any of them in, except for your signature. So let's be frank here. This means police can, if they so wish, fill out the other details on the form themselves afterwards with whatever information they want...and it will have your signature at the bottom of it.
It's all very suspicious indeed, especially when - as in my case - I have a rich 'history' with my local police station. Remember, I was the victim of a false accuser some years ago, falsely arrested by police who didn't bother to check my false accusers story. I was completely cleared in court yet I still had to fight for justice from them every step of the way. I made official complaints against police officers who are or were based at that very same Shettleston police station where I handed the weapon in to today so I'm not Mr Popular down there. Oh dear.
I have grave concerns and a very uneasy feeling deep down in my gut that by doing the correct, honest, and responsible thing today, it may not have been to my best advantage! Just look at the stories I publish on this blog about corruption in Police Scotland. Police Scotland don't like my criticism of them and they are very vindictive people. Very vindictive. That has been my experience.
So, dear readers, if you are thinking of popping in to see Police Scotland to take them up on their so-called 'air weapons surrender scheme', you now have it in black and white from the horses mouth exactly how you'll be treated - and it's NOT the way police tell you in their video.
Police Scotland have falsely lead the public to believe that this is some sort of amnesty type of scheme. It's not. By asking for all sorts of personal information from you Police Scotland have been very dishonest.
The scheme is a chaotic shambles and all it has done is prompted good people to hand in weapons.
The bad guys out there will NOT have handed in their weapons - not under those circumstances anyway, I guarantee.
It's been a disaster.
Police have only succeeded in taking thousands of airguns off the streets that were never on the streets to begin with!
These are mostly old airguns which were stuck away and largely forgotten in peoples garages and in their lofts (or in my case, I found my family members airgun stuck at the back of a cupboard that no-one ever goes in to which houses the central heating boiler)!
So why would untrustworthy Police Scotland act in a way which effectively encourages good people to hand in their weapons but dissuades bad people from handing in their weapons?
I have a couple of ideas why this may be:
1. Police don't really want members of the public to surrender their weapons, even though they say they do. They are secretly quite happy for many of these weapons to remain out there on the streets - especially with the baddies - so that when the new law comes in to effect on 1st January 2017 they can then arrest everyone who still has a weapon.
Police believe that more arrests makes it look - to the wider public - like they are doing a good job. Every time they successfully target and arrest a member of the public it's yet another feather in the cap for a police officer. Don't believe police target the public? When you look in your rear view mirror and you see a police car behind you, do you feel safe or do you feel anxious? Yip, thought so. 'Nuff said.
So by encouraging baddies to keep their weapons it gives police an excuse to arrest them at a later date (after 1st Jan 2017) which helps them to achieve future arrest targets.
Of course, pity the poor public who Police Scotland are quite happy to put in harms way by these weapons being on our streets in the hands of baddies. But hey, protecting the public has always been of much less importance to Police Scotland than targeting the public.
2. Police Scotland are simply using the 'air weapons surrender scheme' to gather intelligence information about innocent members of the public to add to their already bulging database (which also includes road camera pics of 800 million innocent Scottish drivers going about their daily business which police keep for no reason).
And how do they justify all this intelligence gathering against members of the public who have done absolutely nothing wrong?
Well, in police's eyes if you have a weapon you're probably some sort of a baddie or, at the very least, 'a person of interest' to them for even having one in the first place. Police Scotland just love to arrogantly mistreat members of the public and are always happy to brutally ride roughshod over every single legal right that the public have. They don't care. They view everyone with suspicion - it's their default setting. You are guilty until proved innocent as far as they are concerned instead of the other way round as it should be. So in their warped minds, why would you own a weapon? You must be up to something if you have an airgun.
In reality what they're really doing is covertly garnering as much information about you and logging it for future use against you.
And here's how they make it all work:
You see Police Scotland are very vindictive people and are infamous for using a little trick called 'bundling' - a process where they add lots of little snippets of information to your 'intelligence file' over a period of time. The idea is that some day in the future when they eventually manage to arrest and charge you for something silly or insignificant (like being drunk in charge of a fish supper or whatever), they can 'bundle' together all the little tid-bits of intelligence they have collected on you in the past to embellish the case against you and make it in to a bigger case than it would normally be.
A piece of intelligence in your file which says you used to own a firearm in the past is akin to evidential gold for someone like untrustworthy Police Scotland, especially when they're trying to push their boss, the Procurator Fiscal, to prosecute you.
The idea is that when the evidence against you is insufficient, all these little tid-bits of intelligence from the past are 'bundled' together to help tip the balance of flimsy evidence a bit more in their favour. It's all there, in their intelligence database, just sitting waiting for them to use against you any time they need to in the future.
It's designed specifically to help their buddies in the corrupt Crown office get a successful conviction against you for what would normally be an otherwise minor or even a false charge. And these little tid-bits of intelligence can often make the difference between the Procurator Fiscal going ahead with a prosecution against you in an otherwise evidentially flimsy case as opposed to 'penning' it as would normally happen due to lack of evidence.
In short, 'bundling' evidence helps inflate and falsely fabricate 'a sufficiency of evidence' where it did not exist before.
It shouldn't happen but it does.
It's no secret that Police Scotland have illegally spied on journalists in the past. The investigation in to the Emma Caldwell scandal is still ongoing (her murderer is still out there) and we still haven't had any satisfactory answers from Police Scotland about their illegal spying escapades even though they have now accepted and fully admitted that they did indeed spy illegally. In fact, very recently we have seen very high ranking officers in Police Scotland contradicting each other publicly as one by one they squeal on each other to try and save their own skins while running to the hills for cover.
So it has been proved beyond any doubt that the intelligence police collect on us is not always collected legally.
It has also been proved beyond any doubt that the intelligence police collect on us is not always correct or reliable. Nor do they use it properly or efficiently or for the right reasons.
It's also no secret that Police Scotland don't like me, my journalism, and the information I publish about them on this blog.
I get stopped by police in my vehicle on a fairly regular basis. Oh yeah, they always claim it's just routine, they check my details, and then let me continue on my way, so it's nothing more than a minor inconvenience to me.
The problem is, it's an inconvenience that I never used to experience from police - until of course I took on the might of untrustworthy Police Scotland and the corrupt Crown office in court and won against them - they don't like you doing that, I can assure you! Perhaps it's just co-incidence. Or, as I suspect, police still have some old false and outdated intelligence on me on their files which has me wrongly tagged as still being 'a person of interest' to them.
Their botched case against me a couple of years ago when I was the victim of a false accuser resulted in Sheriff Douglas Brown being quoted as saying "Mr Campbell should never have been brought before a criminal court". That's a very damning criticism of Police Scotland if ever I've heard one from a senior judge. Police's case against me was thrown right out of court, so I'm an innocent man and should be of no interest to them whatsoever.
Funny thing is that I drive more than one vehicle but police only ever stop me when I'm in one particular vehicle, never the others. Hmmm. They even stopped a family member who was driving the vehicle one day and seemed surprised that it wasn't me - they even asked the family member "does anyone else drive this vehicle?". Strange eh?! Do you think perhaps police have the registration plate of that vehicle on their intelligence files and are just being vindictive? I'll let you decide.
Either way, you can understand why I am deeply suspicious about Police Scotland's 'air weapon surrender scheme' and very curious as to why Police Scotland would purposely lie in their informational video about the scheme (and why they wanted so much personal information from me today and made me sign a blank form)?
And I'm worried.
Worried because police don't care that it wasn't my weapon, it was someone else weapon that I surrendered, so I'll perhaps see yet another re-invigorated little flurry of negative activity from police towards me and my journalism now.
Trust me, police are very dishonest and extremely untrustworthy. You can bet your pension that the weapon has now been 'earmarked' against me personally with my name, my address, my date of birth, and my telephone number. Goodness knows what they've added to my intelligence file now and goodness knows what they wrote on the blank form after I left the station today (which I've signed at the bottom)!
Doesn't exactly fill you with confidence does it?
Of course there is one way I could have avoided all this potential hassle and there's a way you too can avoid all this hassle.
If you have a weapon, don't take it to the police, just throw it in to the nearest wheelie bin.
There will be no police enquiries in to who you are.
You won't have to give your name, address, d.o.b, and phone number.
You won't have to expose yourself to the potential risk of becoming a targeted name on their intelligence database.
You'll be free to go about your every day business as normal without any hassle or problems from the police...
But stop, wait, hang on. No, no, no, please don't do that - I'm being facetious of course!
I'm obviously NOT advocating that you do that!
God forbid some hooligan or worse, a child, could fish it out of the wheelie bin and try to use it wth disastrous or even life threatening consequences.
Please, please think of little two-year-old Andrew Morton and dispose of any weapons responsibly just as I did today.
The point I'm making here to untrustworthy Police Scotland (should they choose to listen) is that they need to be honest with the public if they ever hope to have the support of the public in getting these weapons off our streets.
The Police Scotland video, their very own video from their own 'air weapons surrender scheme' page on their own website (which I've embedded in to the end of this post), is not honest. Go watch it.
To conclude, today I acted with propriety, rectitude and responsibly. I got well-rid of a very dangerous weapon belonging to a deceased member of my family who obviously had no opportunity to dispose of it himself...so I did.
It wasn't my weapon, I didn't own it, I've never used it (and wouldn't know how to anyway). In short, it wasn't my responsibility. It had nothing to do with me...yet still, I did it.
I acted the way I would hope and expect every decent member of the Scottish public who cherishes public safety to act.
Just as important, and as a bit of an aside, it is my understanding from others in my family, that the weapon probably hasn't been used or fired in 20 or 30 years. Can you imagine if I'd just dumped it in to any old wheelie bin in Shettleston Road to avoid untrustworthy Police Scotland taking down all my details and to prevent them abusing the act of responsibility I showed today in order to to harm me and use it to my detriment in the future (which, hey, who knows, they may still do)?
Not only could the weapon possibly be used to kill someone, a person who tries to fire that weapon could very possibly be injured or killed themselves. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the damn thing blows up when someone tries to pull the trigger, because if it hasn't been fired in 20 or 30 years it probably hasn't been cleaned or maintained in 40 or 50 years!
So today I did the correct, proper, honest, and responsible thing. And yet I've probably done myself no favours in doing so.
Police Scotland had a duty to me today - and a duty to every other member of the Scottish public - to make the 'air weapons surrender scheme' easy, but they didn't. Police Scotland have failed.
Instead, they lied to me and the Scottish public about the disposal of these weapons.
That leads me to have grave suspicions about their motives.
Police Scotland should have made the process happen in exactly the same way they show it to be in their informational video below. But they didn't. That concerns me greatly and it should concern every member of the Scottish public who value their safety and who, like me, wants to see ALL of these dangerous weapons completely off our streets.
How many of these weapons are still out there just because the people who own them don't trust Police Scotland enough to hand them in?
According to recent press reports, tens of thousands of honest members of the public - like me - have taken advantage of the 'air weapons surrender scheme' and handed in weapons to police for disposal.
What's not so good is that the 'baddies' out there will have very quickly learned that Police Scotland demand to know all your personal details such as your name, address, date of birth, and telephone number when you hand a weapon in.
The baddies will NOT have handed all their weapons in, that's for sure!
So it's highly probably that right now all the weapons belonging to good, honest, decent members of the public which have been kicking around lofts, garages, and cupboards, untouched and unused for years are now in police possession...while the 'baddies' out there still have their weapons and will continue to use them to commit criminal acts, day in and day out, for the foreseeable future.
That's a serious concern for public safety and the Scottish public should be appalled at how Police Scotland have handled this debacle.
Mind you, knowing untrustworthy Police Scotland as well as I do, it would not surprise me at all if they've purposely done all of this by design rather than by accident...