45. With a move to license air weapons in Scotland, all Scottish owners will be required to have proper authority to own and use their guns. Alongside this, it will be necessary to put in place a related system whereby those visiting Scotland to shoot with an air weapon can provide suitable evidence of their right to have that weapon. Without such evidence, police and other authorities would have no practical way of checking a person's right to carry and use an air weapon.
46. The Scottish Government's aim is to introduce a simple, pragmatic regime, which is transparent to those coming to Scotland with air weapons, while providing a proportionate level of control and reassurance about the movement and use of weapons in Scotland. It is also important to ensure firearms licensing officers can apply meaningful and proportionate checks on people hoping to visit Scotland with air weapons.
47. We therefore propose to introduce a relatively simple permit for visitors to Scotland which gives permission to possess one or more air weapons for a limited period. This could follow the current format for visitor permits for firearms and shotguns which require the applicant to nominate a sponsor in the UK, who would vouch for the information provided by the applicant. Similar air weapon visitor permit systems operate elsewhere, including in Northern Ireland, and we will look to their experience and work with licensing managers to prepare more detailed proposals and guidance.
48. Air weapons are not generally licensed in other countries and there are differences in the definition of air weapons amongst UK, EU and other legislation. Existing visitor permit checks against certificates held could not be applied. In addition, any necessary background checks relating to an application for a visitor's permit under the new regime should be proportionate and need not generally involve detailed background checks by the authorities.
49. We therefore propose that:
- holders of GB or Northern Ireland firearms or shotgun certificates should provide a copy of these in support of their application and these shall, under normal circumstances, be taken as sufficient to allow issue of a Scottish air weapons visitors permit.;
- holders of a European Firearms Pass, or of recognised firearm, shotgun or equivalent certificates from elsewhere in the world should similarly furnish a copy in support of their application. It will be for the licensing authority to decide whether further evidence is required to support the air weapon visitor permit application; and
- those without such certification or authority should furnish evidence in support of their application, providing good reason for bringing air weapons into Scotland. This may, for example, include a holiday booking with a recognised operator, or evidence of an invitation to shoot from a private landowner.
Question 11: Do you agree with the proposed levels of checks on applicants for a visitor's permit?
Duration and Fee
50. Given the level of checks proposed for visitors, and the need to provide specific evidence of good reason, as set out above, we propose that a standard visitor permit should last for a limited period – for example, three months. We also propose that the costs of such a permit should be relatively low.
51. We recognise that regular competition shooters may well wish to visit Scotland regularly, and perhaps several times a year. Such shooters are likely to be well qualified and already subject to suitable checks on their fitness to hold weapons. To reflect this experience and the importance of competition shooting in Scotland we propose that the option of a separate competition certificate be explored. This would last for longer than the standard visitor permit – for example, one year – and would attract a higher fee than the standard application.
Question 12: Do you agree with the proposal to adopt a system of time-limited visitor permits and do you agree with the proposed duration of such permits?
Question 13: Do you agree that a separate, longer term permit should be available to competition shooters?