The Scottish Government has a long-standing commitment to modernise and strengthen the law around air weapons, to better protect Scotland’s communities. The first step towards delivering this came with the Scotland Act 2012, which included provisions to transfer the responsibility for air weapon legislation from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. This is broadly in line with the recommendation of the Calman Commission on air weapons.
Powers to regulate air weapons were transferred to the Scottish Government on 3 July 2012. In preparation for this the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice established, and chaired the first meeting of, the Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel in November 2011.
Membership of the Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel consisted of the Police, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Scottish Target Shooting Federation, the Gun Trade Association, the British Shooting Sports Council, the Scottish Air Rifle and Pistol Association, the Gun Control Network, the Scottish Community Safety Network, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Government.
Based on the recommendations of the Panel, the Scottish Government published a consultation paper which set out proposals for air weapon licensing. The public consultation period ran from 14 December 2012 to 15 March 2013, during which time 1,101 responses were received. The following documents relating to the consultation are available:
Legislation and next steps
On 15 May 2014 the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice introduced the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill. Parliament passed the Bill on 25 June 2015, and on 4 August the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 received Royal Assent. The Act sets out a robust licensing regime for air weapons, which has been developed in consultation with Police Scotland and other stakeholders.
There will be a lead-in period and public information campaign before the full regime comes into force, so that those people with air weapons or planning to purchase or use air weapons in Scotland are aware of their new obligations. There is no need to apply for an air weapon certificate at this time.
If you have an unwanted air weapon that you would like to get rid of then you should contact your local Police Scotland firearms licensing department for advice.