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Proposals for Licensing Air Weapons in Scotland

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Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel (SFCP)

11. In November 2011 the Cabinet Secretary for Justice convened the Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel (SFCP) to discuss and advise on developing a new licensing system for air weapons in Scotland. The Panel agreed the following Remit and Terms of Reference.

Remit

In light of the Scottish Government's commitment to introduce a new licensing regime for air weapons in Scotland, to advise on the development and implementation of a new system.

The Group will be chaired by the Scottish Government and is expected to meet every six to eight weeks until its tasks have been discharged. The first meeting of the group will be held on 29 November 2011. The Group may wish to establish sub-groups to consider and report back on detailed or specialist areas of work.

Terms of Reference

The Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel would have a number of main tasks including:

- to examine and advise on the practical aspects of licensing air weapons, taking into account wider developments such as policing structures post-reform;
- to consider the value of piloting a scheme before roll-out and to consider the scope and terms of such a pilot; and
- to consider how licensing air weapons fits into wider firearms controls.

In addition to these main areas, the Panel will consider detailed issues including:

- legitimate reasons for possession of an air weapon;
- competence or awareness of safety in handling air weapons;
- confirmation by a medical professional of the suitability of a licence holder;
- cross-border issues;
- timescales for the introduction of the new systems;
- a possible lead-in period to allow those who currently hold air weapons either to license them free of charge, or to hand them in to the police; and
- a licence fee to cover administration and other costs.

Membership

Police / Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland / Scottish Police Services Authority
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
British Association for Shooting and Conservation
Scottish Target Shooting Federation
Gun Trade Association
British Shooting Sports Council
Scottish Air Rifle and Pistol Association
Gun Control Network
Scottish Community Safety Network
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
Scottish Government

Core Principles

12. In the course of its discussions the Panel highlighted the complexities involved in establishing a new licensing regime. However, the following core principles had broad agreement across the Panel:

  • Responsibility for air weapon licensing administration and enforcement should rest with the chief officer of police for the area in which the applicant or certificate holder resides.
  • Processes, arrangements and considerations around the suitability of air weapons owners and users should mirror, as far as practicable, the criteria currently applied to firearms/shotguns generally.
  • A single air weapons certificate should cover all such weapons held by an individual. This broadly mirrors the approach taken on shotgun certification.
  • Certificates would not include information or restrictions on ammunition held - although some further consideration may be needed for certain types of ammunition such as darts.
  • As with firearms and shotguns, powers to refuse or revoke certificates in individual cases are an essential sanction that must be open to the police, for example, in cases when persons are deemed unsuitable, or where insufficient good reason for holding an air weapon exists.
  • The application process and the possession of a certificate, and the ownership and use of air weapons should place legal responsibilities on the individual concerned, for which contravention constitutes a criminal offence attracting appropriate sanctions.
  • Applicants for a certificate for air weapons would not be required to undergo detailed, duplicate checks if they already possess a firearm or shotgun certificate.
  • An application for an air weapons certificate should be accompanied by a fee, payable to the chief officer of police.