17,500 air weapons handed to police as amnesty deadline looms

A total of 10,500 applications to keep weapons have been submitted as part of the campaign. Picture: Roberto Cavieres
A total of 10,500 applications to keep weapons have been submitted as part of the campaign. Picture: Roberto Cavieres
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More than 17,500 air weapons have been handed in to Police Scotland over the last six months as part of a nationwide amnesty.

It follows new legislation which requires anyone wishing to retain air weapons after December 31 to apply for a licence or risk prosecution, with offenders facing a fine or up to two years in jail if convicted.

A total of 10,500 applications have been submitted as part of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act, however only those received before November 1 will be processed before the end of the year.

Those whose applications are not yet processed are advised by police to store weapons with someone who already holds a licence or lodge it with a registered firearms dealer, in order to avoid breaking the law.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Every day the 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.

• READ MORE: North east sees highest air weapons surrender

“By licensing air weapons we will take them out of the hands of those who would misuse them and better protect our communities.

“The new law coming into force is part of our long-standing commitment to eradicate gun crime in Scotland.

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

“We believe the new licence strikes the right balance between protecting communities and allowing legitimate use in a safe environment to continue.”

Weapons passed to police are to be destroyed.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: “More than 17,500 unwanted air weapons have been handed in to Police Scotland for secure destruction since the summer, and anyone who still has an air weapon and does not want to apply for a licence can still hand it in.”