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Tighter Controls on Airguns to Begin in July

Owners of airguns and air rifles have six months to ensure that they have a certificate or appropriate permit to avoid prosecution.

A new licensing regime for air rifles will come into place in July, and anyone who wants to use or own an airgun will have to apply to Police Scotland for an air weapon certificate, or a permit from July 1, 2016.

Clampdown on Guns and Firearm Offences

If an owner fails to have proper papers from that date and anyone found guilty of committing an offence under the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act, 2015 could face a fine or two years in prison. The move has been welcomed by campaigners and is part of the Scottish Government’s clampdown on the access that many people have to guns and firearm offences.

Currently, it is thought that there are more than half a million unlicensed air rifles and similar weapons in Scotland, with a number being in Glasgow.

When outlining the bill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said: “This government has a long-standing commitment to eradicating gun crime in Scotland and this new legislation will better protect our communities by taking these potentially lethal weapons out of the hands of those who would misuse them.

“Every day, police, the public and animal welfare groups have to face the results of air weapon misuse, from anti-social behaviour to horrific and deliberate injuries to wildlife, pets and very occasionally people.

“We are not banning air weapons outright, but ensuring that their use is properly regulated, and users have a legitimate reason for them.

“We believe this legislation strikes the right balance between protecting communities and allowing legitimate shooting in a safe environment to continue.

“We will be publishing clear information on how air weapon owners can apply for a certificate or permit. I would encourage anybody with an air weapon to stay on the right side of the law by using the six months from 1 July to apply for the right to possess an air weapon.”

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: “Police Scotland fully supports the changes to air weapon legislation and in support of these developments will launch an air weapons surrender campaign later this year. This will allow people to hand in any unwanted air weapons before licensing takes effect.”

As well as supporting the legislation, Police Scotland will also be allowing those with unwanted airguns to hand in their weapons as part of a campaign before the July 1 cut-off.

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