On the day applications for airgun licenses officially opened in Scotland, owners were advised of their impending obligations as the annual Scottish Game Fair opened at Scone yesterday.
And while an estimated 12,000 air weapons had been handed in for destruction during the recent amnesty, according to Dr Colin Shedden, director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) in Scotland, many of those were destroyed unnecessarily.
“The shooting community is a very law abiding sector of society” he said,” for they know that if they’re not they will have their guns taken away”.
He said that the association had been providing a considerable amount of advice on the issue to shooters – and had been seen the first port of call for people wondering what the new legislation meant for them
“For the shooters living in Scotland who already have either a shotgun or a firearms certificate they will be covered for airguns they already own until these certificates expire,” he said. “However there have been a number of incidents where they have been pressurised into surrendering airguns when they had no need.”
He said that those with airguns had also had the option of selling them to a gun shop – adding that this had led to a considerable amount of cross-border movement of air rifles from Scotland into England – where they could still be legally purchased without the need for a certificate.
Shedden said that if shooters who only owned an air weapon applied for the new certificate before 31 October this year they would be able to continue to hold the weapon – but not use it – until the licence came through.
However, if the application was made after 31 October, until the certificate was issued alternative arrangements for storage of the weapon had to be made.
He added that if anyone without either a shotgun or firearms licence who had failed to get a certificate by the end of the year was found to be in possession of an air weapon, they could face imprisonment for up to two years, a fine – or both.
“Despite indications that the police will be taking a ‘light touch’ on the issue in the early stages, there is still a deal of uncertainty over the actual requirements out there. We would advise anyone who has any queries to contact either ourselves or the police.”