JUSTICE Secretary Kenny MacAskill today unveiled proposals for “one of the most robust regimes in the world” in Scotland to crack down on air weapons.
New laws will see a hardline licensing system introduced to ensure air weapons are subject to similar restrictions which currently apply to firearms like handguns and rifles.
The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was published in Holyrood today.
It will mean “robust offences and penalties” for anyone who breaks the new laws, which will also define which weapons will be subject to licensing.
Mr MacAskill launched the new legislation in Edinburgh this morning.
He said: “This Government will introduce a licensing regime that is fit for the 21st century and these proposals amount to one of the most robust air weapon licensing regimes in the world, much further ahead of our counterparts in England and Wales.
“The introduction of a licensing regime for air weapons represents an important first step towards devolving all powers on firearms to the Scottish Parliament, something we have long pressed the UK Government for.”
“We are not banning air weapons outright but there has to be a legitimate use for them.”
There are currently believed to be about half a million air weapons in Scotland.
Mr MacAskill has previously met Andrew Morton and Sharon McMillan, who have been campaigning on the issue since their toddler son died after being shot with one of the weapons in 2005.
Mark Bonini was convicted of murdering two-year-old Andrew Morton later the same year.
The youngster died in hospital two days after being hit in the head with a pellet fired by Bonini in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow.
Holyrood was given powers over air weapons as part of changes made to devolution in the Scotland Act.