SCOTTISH gun crime has hit a record low.

New government figures showed there were just under an offence involving a firearm every day in both 2016-17 & 2017-18.

Crucially, the number of people either hurt or killed by a gun going off fell to 41 last year. 

Scotland suffered a single homicide involving a firearm in 2016-2017 and another two in 2017-2018.

There were eight attempted murders involving a firearm in 2016-17 and ten in 2017-18.

The numbers, which include a period of tit-for-tat gangland shootings in Glasgow, came before the suspected murder of Edinburgh gym owner Bradley Welsh last week.

The fall in record gun crime comes despite police intelligence suggesting gangsters have easier access to firearms across the UK.

HeraldScotland:

Bradley Welsh

Late last year Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson of Police Scotland said there were now so many weapons available that criminals could afford to fire their weapons then throw them away.

A firearm, he said, used to be “a precious commodity so people did not want to lose it.”  He added: “So it would be used by one person and then stored away. And then it would be used again.”

That meant ballistics would show a single gun used in multiple crimes. “The shooter, potentially would be a different person,” Mr Johnson explained. Guns were so rare, they were kept. They were multi-use. That helped law enforcement track and link crimes."

READ MORE: Police say gangsters have so many guns they can throw them away after use

Record crime only picks up those cases innvolving weapons that come to the attention of the police, including, sources usually insist, almost all shootings.

An official statistical bulletin issued by the Scottish Government said that in 2017-18, the police in Scotland recorded 348 offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved, a decrease of 1% from 2016-17 (350 offences) and 13% from 2015-16 (402 offences).

Scotland's chief statistician issued the bulletin after a review of how firearms data is recorded. The bulletin said that any direct comparison with previously published statistics for the period prior to 2015-16 would  not provide a reliable measure of change, as earlier figures may have underestimated the number of offences involving firearms.

However, number-crunchers are confident that the number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved in 2017-18 was lower than any other year since the current data collection began in 1980.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf said: “These figures show we are continuing to make progress in tackling firearms misuse with offences now at their lowest level for any single year since 1980.

“While firearms offences are rare, we know that just one such incident can have a devastating impact on victims and the wider community, so we are determined to continue working with our partners to reduce these numbers.

“Having successfully lobbied to have the relevant powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we are the only part of Great Britain to licence air weapons – ensuring that only those with a legitimate need have lawful access to them.

“Since our licensing legislation was passed in 2015-16 offences involving an air weapon have fallen by a third. This is testament to the hard work of Police Scotland, and partners, in introducing the new licensing regime.”

HeraldScotland: Humza Yousaf, Scottish minister for transport

Humza Yousaf

Gun crime has fallen even faster when air weapons - and unidentified weapons-  are excluded fron the figures. The total number of offences involving a firearm decreased by 14% between 2016-17 and 2017- 18 (from 177 offences to 153 offences). 

Overall, the most commonly committed offences involving a firearm in 2017-18 were ossession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, commit crime, etc.(18%), breach of the peace etc. (17%) and common assault (14%).

The number of offences in which a firearm was discharged and caused fatal or non-fatal injury decreased by two (or 5%) from 43 in 2016-17 to 41 in 2017-18.

An air weapon was the main firearm used in 36% of all offences including the alleged involvement of a firearm in 2017-18, followed by a pistol (11%) and a shotgun (7%).