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31 May 2016, 08:10
More than 2,000 air weapons have been handed in to police across Scotland in the first week of a national amnesty.
Owners of unwanted airguns in Scotland have been asked to surrender them over the three weeks from May 23 to June 12 before a legislation change ushers in a tightening of ownership rules.
Police Scotland said a total of 2,301 weapons were handed in during the first week of the Air Weapon Surrender Campaign.
From December 31 it will be illegal for anyone to possess or use an air weapon without a licence under the Air Weapon and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015.
A total of 72 police stations, from Lerwick to Stranraer, have been designated as places where air weapons can be handed in if owners do not want to apply for a licence.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: "This is a fantastic start to the three-week campaign. It's great to see so many weapons being handed in and I'd like to thank responsible members of the public for surrendering them.
"Remember there is still two weeks left to run and I'd like to appeal to anyone who possesses an air weapon and doesn't intend licensing it to hand it in to one of the designated 72 stations across Scotland.''
Those wishing to apply for a certificate will be able to do so from July 1, in a similar manner to the current firearm and shotgun certification process. BB guns are not classified as air weapons under the Act.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "I had the opportunity to meet with Police Scotland staff last week and see some of the weapons that have been taken off our streets.
"It is extremely encouraging to know that so many air weapons have been handed in by people who do not plan to have a licence when the new law comes into force at the end of the year.
"I would encourage anybody with an air weapon to stay on the right side of the law by handing them in during the surrender process or, if they wish to keep them, making sure they apply from July 1 for the right to own an air weapon.''
There were 182 air weapon offences in 2013-14, the equivalent of one every other day, according to the Scottish Government.
Wild animals and cats are the most common victims of air weapon crimes, with more than 100 reports of animals being targeted each year.
More information about the amnesty can be found at www.scotland.police.uk/airweaponsurrender.