Publication - Advice and guidance

Air weapon licensing in Scotland: guide

Published: 22 Feb 2019

Guidance published by Scottish Ministers on the practical application of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015.

Air weapon licensing in Scotland: guide
13. Enforcement

13. Enforcement

Sections 26 to 29 of the 2015 Act make provision for the enforcement of the air weapons licensing regime.


At section 26, Police Scotland may apply to a Sheriff for a warrant if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that an air weapon offence has been committed, or is about to be committed, or that there is a danger to the public. Amongst other things, a warrant granted would enable the police to seize anything relevant found on the premises searched. In particular, consideration should be given to the immediate seizure of all air weapons or, alternatively, to putting in place a risk management plan which would prevent access to them. This action would be on the grounds of public safety until the situation can be reviewed and assessed.

A report must be submitted to the local Firearms & Explosives Licensing Centre together will all relevant reports/statements and supporting evidence where:

  • Any offence is committed under Part 1 of the 2015 Act
  • Any accident or incident occurs involving the misuse or suspected misuse of an air weapon by a certificate holder, or
  • A certificate holder is charged with any offence or has come to the adverse attention of the Police for any other reason.

Production of an air weapon certificate

Section 27 of the 2015 Act provides that a constable may demand from any person believed to be in possession of an air weapon that they produce their Air Weapon Certificate or other evidence to show that they are entitled to have such a weapon in their possession.

If the person fails to produce the certificate or such evidence the constable may seize any air weapon found and require the person to provide their name and address.

Cancellation of an air weapon certificate

Section 28 of the 2015 Act makes provision to enable a court to cancel an AWC held by a person who is:

  • convicted of an offence under Part 1 of the 2015 Act, an offence under the Firearms Act 1968, or an offence for which the person is sentenced to imprisonment or to detention in a young offenders institution; or
  • subject to a particular court order/disposal which precludes the person from possessing, carrying or using an air weapon or other firearm.

The police should, following notification of this decision, notify the certificate holder and require the surrender of the certificate within 21 days.

Forfeiting and disposing of air weapons

Section 29 of the 2015 Act makes provision, where a person is convicted of an air weapon offence, for the forfeiture or disposal of any air weapons found in that person's possession. The court may make an order for forfeiture or disposal as it thinks fit. The police may seize and detain any air weapon which is or could be the subject of such an order.

Alternatively, the Chief Constable may apply to a Sheriff for an order to dispose (by any means the Chief Constable considers fit) of any air weapon(s) seized and detained by a constable under Part 1 of the 2015 Act.

Where the air weapon is to be disposed of as a result of an order under this section, Police Scotland should seek to reach an agreed disposal with the applicant wherever possible. During such discussions, the police should be satisfied that the weapons are held securely by a fit person.


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