Air Gun Surrender Campaign Ahead Of New Licence

17 May 2016, 16:07 | Updated: 17 May 2016, 16:10

Air gun owners seeking to avoid the new licence fee - or a fine and possibly imprisonment for an unlicensed gun - can surrender their weapon to the police next week.

Police Scotland is running a surrender campaign at 72 stations from May 23 to June 12 ahead of the launch of the new air weapons certificate application form on July 1.

All owners will require a licence by December 31.

The cost has yet to be decided by ministers but the British Association of Shooting and Conservation has said it expects it to be less than the £79.50 shotgun licence.

There were 182 air weapon offences in 2013-14, the equivalent of one every other day, according to the Scottish SPCA.

Wild animals and cats are the most common victims of air weapon crimes, with more than 100 reports of animals being targeted each year. Many of these attacks take place in highly-populated, residential areas.

The Scottish Government is raising awareness of its new law with a kitten called Fizz, who lost a leg when her thigh bone was shattered by an air gun pellet near her Renfrewshire home in 2014.

Fizz's owner Elaine Boyle, 50, a mother-of-three from Renfrew, 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.''

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike 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.''