Gun expert hits out at air weapon amnesty

The air guns which have been handed over to Tayside police so far
The air guns which have been handed over to Tayside police so far

A DUNDEE gun expert has slammed a three-week Police Scotland amnesty on air weapons, dismissing it as a “box-ticking exercise”.

The Tayside division of Police Scotland last week issued a reminder to those in possession of air weapons to surrender them if they are not willing to obtain a licence under the new Air Weapon and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, which comes into force on December 31 2016.

So far, 261 weapons have been handed over to the force.

A police chief said the weapons had the potential to “cause serious injury or death”.

But Robbie McGregor, who runs Angler’s Choice in Strathmartine Road, which sells firearms, said the legislation targeted the wrong people.

He told the Tele: “The air gun legislation itself, in my opinion, has been introduced without terms and conditions fully in place and most in the gun community agree that it will punish the wrong people.

“Those wanting to cause harm to someone would not come into a shop and buy a gun which requires giving all their details. Instead, they can go to a supermarket and buy knives which are classed as kitchen utensils. I think it boils down to guns not being liked.

“While air weapons do cause injury, most of those in the wrong hands would not have been bought in shops.

“It’s people who cause harm, not the guns themselves. People should also be made aware of exactly what the rules and regulations are before being asked to surrender their guns.

“A three-week campaign seems pointless. People who are away on holiday or working might miss that, and then they’re still in a situation where they’re in possession of a gun and nothing will happen to them for another six months anyway.

“It seems like a box-ticking exercise to win votes and won’t stop those wanting to misuse air weapons from doing so. Harsher sentencing would be a stronger deterrent.”

The three-week amnesty began on May 23 and concludes on June 12.

Chief Inspector Mike Whitford, of the divisional coordination unit in Tayside said: “Every one of these weapons has the potential to cause serious injury or death, in particular to children or young people if handled incorrectly. There will be many lying around in homes across Tayside unused and this is a great opportunity to get rid of them.

“I’d encourage anyone who has such a weapon to consider if they are likely to apply for a certificate under the new legislation and if not, hand it in to one of designated stations.

“It will remove the risk from their family and other members of the public.”