No licence. No air gun. That’s the message to air weapon owners who will need firearms certificates for their weapons when new laws come in to effect.
The Scottish Government has joined forces with animal charity Scottish SPCA to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the new air weapons legislation.
The new law is being introduced to improve public safety and reduce gun crime by taking air weapons out of the hands of those who would misuse them.
People who own or use an air weapon will need to have a certificate under the new rules introduced in the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, which comes into force from December 31, 2016.
People who no longer want to keep their weapon will be able to hand them in to Police Scotland between Monday, May 23, and Sunday, June 12.
There will be 72 police stations throughout the country, from Lerwick to Stranraer, where weapons can be handed in as part of the surrender campaign.
Today’s launch was supported by Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn and mum-of-three Elaine Boyle of Renfrew, whose pet cat was shot with a pellet from an airgun.
The black and white kitten, Fizz, had to have one of her back legs removed by vets after her thigh bone was shattered in the cruel attack, which happened close to her family home in 2014.
There were 182 air weapon offences in 2013-14 – the equivalent of an offence using an air weapon every other day.
Mr Flynn said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s licensing scheme, which will help ensure air weapons are only used responsibly and lawfully. This is a major step forward for animal welfare in Scotland and it sends out a strong message that mindless acts of violence using air weapons will not be tolerated.
“It is appalling that animals such as Fizz are being targeted and caused such pain and suffering. We believe that many more airgun incidents go unreported because the bodies of the animals are never found.
“Disturbingly, some people seem to think it is fun to maim and kill defenceless animals with air weapons and this is completely unacceptable in a modern, civilised society.”
Wild animals and cats are the most common victims of air weapon crimes with Scottish SPCA receiving over 100 reports of animals being targeted each year. Many of these attacks take place in highly populated, residential areas.
Elaine, 50, said: “Air weapons in the hands of those who misuse them can cause absolute devastation to families like ours who have had innocent pets maimed or even killed.”
Air gun owners will be able to apply to Police Scotland for an air weapon certificate from July 1, 2016.
Anyone found guilty of committing an offence under the new laws, including not having a licence, could face a fine or, in some cases, imprisonment of up to two years.
For more information on how to apply visit www.airweapon.scot