UNDER existing legislation, people aged 18 or over are able to purchase an airgun, but to do so they must visit a registered firearms dealer (RFD) in person with suitable identification.
Prior to 2007, it was possible for people to buy such weapons online and have them delivered to their home. The advent of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, which came into force the following October, made it a legal requirement to carry out the transaction face-to-face at the premises of an RFD.
The buyer must have suitable identification proving their age, such as a passport or driver’s licence, along with ID showing their address. The shop selling it to them must take a note of their name and address, along with details of the airgun sold.
Anyone who has served a custodial sentence of three years or more is not allowed to purchase such a gun.
The introduction of the legislation, which was passed by MPs at Westminster, also brought to an end the online sales of component or pressure-bearing parts of airguns – such as a barrel, cylinder, or air reservoir and piston – which must be bought in-store.
A member of staff at one Scottish RFD told The Scotsman that the act had helped deter sales of the guns to those people who might not seek to use them responsibly.
He said: “Since the legislation came in, in 2007, we have seen far fewer undesirable people coming in trying to buy an air gun, and I’m sure the police would feel the same way. The requirement for identification has definitely made a difference.”
However, the law, which overhauled old legislation dating back to 1968, did not cover every aspect of airgun associated sales.
It remains possible for those aged 18 or above to buy ammunition for airguns simply by ordering them online, putting in their personal details as they would with any internet purchase, and receiving them in the post. Those selling the ammunition are not required to make a record of the transactions.
The online auction site, eBay, does not allow the sale of guns, but other classified websites, such as Gumtree, do.