MSPs have passed the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill, which will require all airgun owners in Scotland to hold a licence. The legislation looks set to come into force in April of next year.
On 25 June, stage three of the bill was debated at Holyrood and it was passed by 92 votes to 17. This comes despite recent official data that shows airgun offences in Scotland have decreased by 73 per cent since 2006, accounting for just 0.06 per cent of all crimes in Scotland.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We have a long standing commitment to reducing gun crime, and the licensing of air weapons has been central to that aim… Our proposals have not always been universally welcomed but we believe they strike the right balance between respecting the interests of those people who shoot legitimately for work, sport, pest control or leisure, and the need to ensure that those who misuse guns do not have access to them.”
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has reacted by calling the licensing act “bitterly disappointing”.
“This is a policy that has been driven by tabloid outrage, not reason and evidence,” said Alan Balfour, BASC Scottish Committee chairman. “Law-abiding shooters will now have to face the bureaucratic administrative nightmare that will be airgun licensing for no public benefit whatsoever.”