The Scottish Executive is considering introducing a licensing scheme for the trade in non-domestic knives and banning the sale of swords. Both measures could impact heavily on the antique arms market.
The measures on the table would mean that those selling knives which are not designed for domestic use (meaning knives not used in the preparation or consumption of food) would need to apply for a licence in order to trade. The proposals might also require them to record a purchaser's name, address and age and to obtain photographic evidence of the purchaser's identification.
For swords, the Scottish Executive is considering a blanket ban on all sales, although it would allow exceptions in the case of swords used for ceremonial, religious, sporting or cultural purposes. Another option being put forward is that individuals would need to apply for a sword licence themselves in a similar manner to that already required in firearms law.
Under the proposals, retailers of non-domestic knives would need to apply to the relevant local authority for a licence - and could be required to meet certain conditions before their application was approved. It would then be a criminal offence for a person to sell a non-domestic knife without a licence.
It is expected that the costs of operating such a licensing scheme would be recovered through charges made for obtaining licences.
According to figures released last month by Strathclyde Police, blade attacks are almost four times higher in the west of Scotland than anywhere else in the UK. There is a particular problem in Scotland with young men carrying samurai swords, many of them replica ones.
Scotland's justice minister Cathy Jamieson said: "I am committed to reducing violent crime and tackling the weapon carrying culture. Making it more difficult to purchase a non-domestic knife will further deter those without a legitimate reason to possess a knife, and will compel the small minority of unscrupulous traders to sell non-domestic knives more responsibly."
However, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has called for the Scottish Executive to provide evidence that a licensing system for retailers will really make a difference to knife crime. The SRC described the proposals as a "knee-jerk reaction" that they fear will create unnecessary bureaucracy.
The consultation process will continue until September 30 and a Scottish executive spokesman told ATG that he would encourage any interested party to participate.
"We fully recognise the legitimate reasons for owning a non-domestic knife or sword, which is why we are aiming at a balanced solution," he said.
Groups representing activities such as collecting, historical re-enactment and traditional Highland pursuits have already been in contact with the Scottish Executive.
The consultation document states that members of these groups may be exempted from the proposed restrictions, and, furthermore, antique weapons (defined as blades more than 100 years old) would also be considered for exemption.
The consultation document can be viewed online at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations.
Further enquiries can be made by phoning the Scottish executive on 0131 5568400 or writing to Knife Crime Consultation, Scottish Executive Justice Department, Area 1W, St Andrew's House, Edinburgh EH1 3DG.