31. Responsibility for air weapon licensing administration and enforcement will rest with the police. The new Police Service of Scotland comes into being on 1 April 2013. Detailed processes and arrangements for dealing with applications for an air weapons certificate will be a matter for the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland. However, applications are likely to be handled by local police in the area where the applicant resides.
Applying for an air weapons certificate
32. 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. We are proposing that:
- A single air weapons certificate should cover all such weapons held by an individual. This broadly mirrors the approach taken on shotgun certification, and seems practical given that most air weapons do not have serial numbers.
- Certificates would not include information or restrictions on ammunition held.
- 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 good reason for holding an air weapon cannot be demonstrated.
- 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 the same 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.
33. Prior to purchasing an air weapon, the onus should be on the buyer to ensure that they are in possession of a valid certificate which they could present at the point of purchase. Under existing arrangements, registered firearms dealers already have to confirm a buyer's age and address before making an air weapons sale. We do not propose that dealers or sellers would have to confirm that a valid certificate is in place as well.
34. We will expect registered dealers to make buyers aware of their responsibilities as an air weapon owner, through the display or distribution of up to date information and advice. This could form part of a long term, joint information campaign involving dealers, shooting organisations and clubs and the Scottish Government.
Question 6: Do you agree with these proposals for the application process?
Question 7: Do you think there are other issues we should consider around the application process?
35. We want to make the air weapons application and certification process as straightforward and familiar as possible. Air weapon certificates will be the mechanism of licensing for those weapons that are not considered to be specifically dangerous as previously defined. As stated previously, we envisage that air weapon certificates will follow a similar procedure to shotgun certificates, whereby approval is not required for individual guns but for the authority to own shotgun/s. Discussions will take place at a later date with stakeholders regarding the detailed form of certificates etc.
36. Standard and specific conditions will be set out on certificates for air weapons.
37. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 limits air weapon ownership to those aged 18 and over, and clearly sets out provisions for supervised use by younger people. In discussion, Panel members considered that these restrictions operate well. We therefore propose a lower age limit of 18 for those seeking an air weapon certificate.
Question 8: Do you agree that there should be a lower age limit of 18 for those seeking an air weapon certificate, and that use by those younger than 18 should be appropriately supervised by a licensed adult?