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Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill - What will it mean for you?

How difficult would it be to obtain an airgun under the proposed licensing scheme?

The Bill, as introduced, sets out a new licensing system for airguns to be administered by the Police Service of Scotland. This would require an existing owner of an airgun, or a new applicant, to apply for a certificate under a new process. The application process will involve elements taken from the current Firearms and Shotgun certificate application processes i.e. age restrictions, character referees, good reason, home visitation etc.


Specific provisions in the Bill include:


  • a definition of the airguns that will be subject to licensing;
  • a requirement for airgun certificates and the process for applications, grants  (including conditions and duration) variations, renewal and revocation of these;
  • a system of police permits, visitor permits and event permits;
  • restrictions on the commercial sale, sale for delivery outside Scotland,
  • manufacture, repair, testing of air weapons and the operation of recreational
  • shooting facilities;
  • Enforcement powers and offences;
  • Power to set fees and provide guidance;
  • Air gun clubs;
  • Exemptions from the licensing regime.
  • ·


What is the Scottish Countryside Alliance doing about the Bill? 

The SCA has and will continue to lobby against the principles of airgun licensing as well as the detail of the proposed legislation.  We will work with others who are opposed to this, including the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, The Gun Trade Association and other shooting organisations.


This is a brief review of the proposed legislation. Please use the link to view the full Bill including the Explanatory Notes.


Current ownership of an airgun/ rifle or pistol – Do you need to get a certificate now?

No. The Bill has just been introduced, and it may face opposition and or amendments during its passage through the Scottish Parliament. If the Bill is passed, it would be some time before the legislation will come in to force, and then there would be a period allowing applications to be made.  This could be 2015 or 2016 at the earliest.


How long would a proposed airgun certificate be valid for?

If the legislation is passed and the proposed licensing regime introduced, then an airgun certificate would last for five years. If an applicant was between 14 and 18 it would last until they turned 18.


At what age would young shots be able to apply for an airgun certificate?

The proposed guidance states that an individual aged 14 years or over may apply to the Chief Constable for an airgun certificate. They must have the consent of a parent or guardian, and if under 18 years then the certificate will come with certain conditions.


Those under the age of 18 would be covered by an adult’s certificate, including a family member, if they were accompanied and supervised at all times.


How much would an airgun certificate cost?

The cost of a certificate would be in line with the cost of an existing shotgun certificate or firearms licence. The Policy Memorandum attached to the Bill states: that the Scottish Government considers that at £50 the existing fees for firearms and shotgun certificates are very low. However, it is believed that any disproportionate increase could result in applicants simply applying for a firearms licence or shotgun certificate instead.


I live in Scotland and already have a Shot Gun Certificate/ Firearms Licence.  Under the proposed rules would I be expected to apply for a licence to own an airgun?

The intention is that those with an existing shotgun certificate or firearms licence would not need to apply for an airgun certificate until their existing certificate/licence expires.  When renewing an existing shotgun certificate or firearms licence an applicant would inform Police Scotland through the application process that they also wish to apply for an airgun certificate.


Will the proposed licence change how and where an airgun could be used?

The ‘good reason’ test required under the proposed airgun certificate will determine what and where an airgun could be used. For instance, pest control will be recognised as a “good reason” for having an airgun certificate, as will target shooting. 


However, the Scottish Government have expressed their concern about “plinking” (the term used for the practice of target shooting within gardens or other urban or highly populated settings).  Scottish Ministers do not believe that target shooting in such an environment should generally be acceptable unless the applicant can satisfy the Chief Constable as to the safety and other arrangements in place to ensure that shooting can be carried out without risk to the public.”



I currently shoot as a member of an airgun club.  Would this be acceptable under the proposed certificate?

Membership of an “approved” airgun club would qualify for airgun use under the ‘good reason’ test.  However, a club would have to apply for formal approval from the Chief Constable. Currently, there are no approved air weapon clubs in Scotland, and new clubs would have to apply for approval.


I collect antique or rare air rifles and pistols.  Would I require a certificate under the proposed legislation?

Yes, you would need to apply for a certificate to possess these airguns.  There is also provision within the proposed legislation for museum collections, which would also require approval.



What would the penalty be under the new licensing regime for possessing an airgun without a certificate?

Under the proposed legislation anyone guilty of the above could face imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both.



I live in England but go to Scotland to shoot. How will the proposed legislation affect me?

You would commit an offence in Scotland if you brought an airgun across the border for which you did not have a certificate granted under the Scottish licensing system and would need to apply to Police Scotland for a visitor permit.


You would still be able to come to Scotland with your shotgun which is legislated for by the UK Parliament. 



How can I make my views known on the legislation?

We encourage you to write to your MSPs. A concerted effort when this Bill reaches the committee stages in Parliament could see it fail or have significant amendments made to it to make it less onerous on practitioners.  The Scottish Countryside Alliance will seek and coordinate your assistance through our membership media links when appropriate.



If Scotland votes for independence in September 2014 will the airgun licensing Bill still go ahead?

 A vote for independence in September would have not affect the passage of the Bill. The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill would still be likely to be passed. It would also be expected that an independent Scotland government would pass a Firearms (Scotland) Bill. The Scottish Government have indicated that they wish to have control of all firearms legislation in Scotland whether following independence or as part of greater devolution. This would affect all who shoot in Scotland whether as residents or visitors. We would expect some significant changes in the law and an increase in licence fees. 

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