POLICE IN MORAY and the north east have praised the “fantastic response” from the public who turned in over 1500 air weapons as part of the recent national campaign.
That was the highest number for any division in Scotland and resulted from an amnesty ahead of new laws that will require air gun owners to obtain a licence.
It prompted Chief Constable Phil Gormley to say the initiative was a resounding success – yesterday telling Justice Secretary Michael Matheson that in total 11,569 weapons had been handed in to police stations – 1000 of these arriving after the campaign drew to a close earlier this month.
The Chief Constable confirmed that anyone who still held such weapons and who no longer wished to keep or licence them would be able to hand them in at police stations until the end of the year, when the new legal requirement takes effect.
He said: “Every weapon handed in had the potential to cause serious harm within our communities if misused, and to have more than 11,000 fewer weapons in existence has made Scotland a safer place.
“I am pleased to say our officers are still able to accept unwanted air weapons, and would ask those responsible members of the public who no longer wish to keep a weapon, or to apply for a licence, to do so, preferably in daylight hours, covered and in a way which does not alarm other people.
“All of these guns, and an assortment of other harmful weapons including crossbows, shotguns, rifles and several pistols dating back to World War 2, will now be taken away and destroyed to ensure they are off our streets forever.”
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said: “It is extremely encouraging that more than 11,000 unwanted air weapons have been handed in by people who do not plan to have a licence when the new law comes in to force at the end of the year.
“The new licensing regime is not a ban on air weapons but a means of ensuring people can use air weapons in a regulated way without compromising public safety. We believe this legislation strikes the right balance between protecting communities and allowing legitimate shooting in a safe environment to continue.
“I would encourage anybody with an air weapon to stay on the right side of the law by applying when applications on 1st July. For anybody who plans not to have a licence, Police Scotland will support them to hand in their weapon safely.”
Full details of the surrender campaign can be found on the Police Scotland website at: http://www.scotland.police.uk/whats-happening/airweapons/
Anyone wishing to retain an air weapon after December 31 2016 is required to apply for a licence, or face prosecution with penalties of a fine or up to two years in prison.