Morningside gun shop '˜wildly inappropriate' so close to primary school, says MSP

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AN Edinburgh MSP has hit out at a 'wildly inappropriate' gun shop which is set to open in Morningside just yards away from a primary school.

Labour’s Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson has expressed concern ahead of the opening of Edinburgh Rifles and Sporting Goods on Comiston Road.

The firearms dealer, which has been operating online for the past 18 months, is to open up at the former Harmonious Healthy The Chinese Clinic, offering a full range of new and used firearms, ammunition, reloading components, optics and accessories.

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Mr Johnson has written to the Capital’s top cop, chief superintendent Gareth Blair, for his views on the decision to allow the gun shop to open just 400 feet away from South Morningside Primary School.

The gun shop is set to open on Comiston Road. Picture: Google Street ViewThe gun shop is set to open on Comiston Road. Picture: Google Street View
The gun shop is set to open on Comiston Road. Picture: Google Street View

He said: “I have had a significant number of constituents tell me about this new shop.

“It seems wildly inappropriate to have a firearms business in this area, and I worry this promotes the normalisation of shooting for sport in an area which is regularly passed by children. I respect that gun and rifle businesses are allowed, but I do take objection to the decision to let a business open in these circumstances.”

Edinburgh Rifles and Sporting Goods owner Ed Bewsher, 45, who began trading in May 2017, believes Mr Johnson’s statement is a personal attack on a “legal and legitimate local business” based on very little information.

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He told the Evening News that his firm has grown so much that he needed to expand to have a physical presence near his Morningside home.

The shop will open just yards away from South Morningside Primary School.The shop will open just yards away from South Morningside Primary School.
The shop will open just yards away from South Morningside Primary School.

He added: “Mr Johnson claims to support local small businesses but appears to be selective in the sector they work in. The community faces more risk from tanning salons, vape bars and newsagents selling legal highs than could ever come from a small, independent, registered firearms dealer.

“I have three children under the age of 15 and if I thought there would be any risk I wouldn’t be in this industry. Every customer I have is vetted from the police and their doctor. The security required is extremely high. This is a legal, legitimate business and sport with shooting ranges all across Edinburgh.”

Edinburgh Rifles and Sporting Goods already supplies firearms and ammunition to schools, universities and club target shooters among others. Mr Bewsher highlighted the Capital has produced a number of shooting stars over the years including Seonaid McIntosh, who is the current 50 Prone world champion.

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He said: “I have 30 years’ experience in this field. I grew up in a family who did clay pigeon shooting and I am the chairman of the Lothian and Borders Rifle Club.

“I have lived in the area for ten years and this is my chosen career which I take incredibly seriously. I would be more than happy to speak to Mr Johnson with any concerns he has.”

The firearms store, which is due to open in the coming months, has divided the opinion of local residents.

Thomas Hougham said: “Perfectly legitimate pastime. It’s even an Olympic sport. No different than opening a bicycle shop, riding shop, pet shop, model shop. Good for business, good for the local economy, all positives in my eyes.”

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David Ewing said: “Superb addition to the high street adding variety and helping boost the local economy.”

Melissa Ramsay added: “As someone said earlier, there are some paranoid people out there and rightly so! We should be paranoid, so we really need a gun shop for our economy and right next to a school!”

Sheena Beck said: “Too much violence on the streets already.”

Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair, Divisional Commander for Edinburgh said: “Any Registered Firearms Dealer is subject to a strict and rigid application and vetting process. As we have not received a formal application for this location it is not appropriate to comment further at this time.”