News In Focus

Ministers announce plans for air weapon licensing

14 December 2012

Proposals for the licensing of air weapons were announced by the Scottish Government today.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, visiting Lothian & Borders Police HQ, launched a consultation on the new regime, for which power to legislate was devolved in the Scotland Act 2012. Ministers are committed to introducing a licensing regime, and the consultation concentrates on how it will work.

Developed in consultation with the Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel, convened last November, the proposals will affect anyone who currently owns an air weapon and wants to continue to do so, those buying new air weapons, or those who wish to bring an air weapon into Scotland, for example to competitions or on holiday. Prior to the new laws coming into effect, there will be a period where people can hand in unwanted guns to the police.

It is estimated that there could be as many as half a million unlicensed air guns in Scotland.

The consultation will seek views on how to make the new licensing regime workable, proportionate and how to help the police tackle inappropriate ownership and use of air weapons. It covers the types of air weapon to be covered; legitimate reasons for possessing an air weapon; safety awareness; timescales for introducing the new system; liocence fees; and offences and penalties.

Mr MacAskill said: “We are not banning air weapons outright, but there has to be a legitimate use for them. We do not believe that there should be half a million unlicensed firearms in 21st century Scotland.

“We are not consulting on the principle of licensing – this will happen. While our primary concern is for public safety, we do not wish to penalise those who use air weapons responsibly and who can demonstrate a legitimate use for a gun, such as sport shooting or pest control."

Ministers are continuing to lobby the UK Government to devolve all firearms control.

Click here to view the consultation. The deadline for responses is


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