‘Criminals rarely fire their weapons’

Murdo Fraser launches his campaign for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives
Murdo Fraser launches his campaign for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives
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anyonE interested in the impact of gun crime could do far better than looking to the on-going inquest into the death of crazed gunman Raoul Moat for answers.

They should instead talk to the worried staff working in bookies and off-licenses across the Capital right now.

Six have been held up at gunpoint in the last two months and police believe they may be dealing with a serial armed robber.

Not a single shot has been fired and no-one has yet been hurt, but hundreds of shop staff are understandably anxious, to say the least, about what might happen next.

Our report today of 3,500 guns being seized by Lothian and Borders Police in the past five years does at first sight seem to add to those fears.

But a sober analysis of the facts is in fact highly reassuring for us all.

The vast majority of these weapons are air pistols and BB guns bought for sport by over enthusiastic youths, shotguns that farmers no longer need, rusting relics of conflicts like the Second World War or other such innocent finds.

Criminals carrying guns is a tiny part of the picture.

The truth is these criminals very rarely fire their weapons, and even then they almost always target each other, and they do so with guns that tend to be low-grade “Saturday night specials”.

Armed crime is always frightening, especially for those living and working on the frontline in shops and the emergency services, and that must never be taken lightly.

But at the same time we should not forget the overwhelming odds stacked against any of us being hurt in this way in Edinburgh.

Testing times

nobody likes being forced to think about their own mortality.

So it must have been pretty daunting to get a home testing kit drop on your doorstep inviting you to check whether or not you had bowel cancer.

But the results of NHS Lothian’s proactive efforts to target the vulnerable over-50s in this case have been fully vindicated.

A total of 156 people now undergoing potentially lifesaving treatment that they would not otherwise have known that they needed.

Taking part cannot have been pleasant – indeed around 100,000 chose to ignore it – but this kind of screening has to become a crucial part of the NHS’s work, as it faces up to growing funding pressures.

Not only does it save lives, but it saves money, by monitoring our health in a very cost-effective way.