Hand over your guns, says chief inspector
Police are giving folk with licensed firearms the chance to hand them over in a bid to cut down on the number of weapons in circulation and prevent them from getting into the wrong hands.
New legislation is due to come in next year requiring those with air weapons to gain a licence.
That means air-rifle holders will have to pay a fee and undergo stringent background and security checks before they can hold such a weapon.
But local officers have processed 291 firearms or shotgun applications since the beginning of this year already.
According to chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch, many gun owners have no real use for the weapons in their possession, and he is offering the opportunity to have them disposed of.
He said: “This year alone, here locally in Shetland, we’ve processed nearly 300 firearms and shotgun applications – a lot of that being renewals.
“But what we’ve been finding is that a lot of people have been sitting with weapons – shotguns and firearms – that they don’t use, and can’t really justify having.
“It’s just an encouragement for folk that are not using the weapons.
“I’m keen to get them out of circulation, and encourage folk to come into the police station and hand them in.
“Or, if they want, we can attend at peoples’ houses and we will collect any weapons that they are not using.”
Mr Tulloch said the anticipated change in air rifle legislation, under the terms of the Air Weapon and Licensing (Scotland) Bill expected to come into effect in April, may lead to some folk deciding to give up their air weapons.
“With the air weapon legislation possibly changing on 1st April next year, there will be a number of folk with air weapons who will have to make applications for certificates to hold them.
“They’ll have to have appropriate security in place, we’ll have to go through the vetting process with them, do background checks, and they will have to pay a fee to get a certificate.
“If they are not using it will be an opportunity for us. We will come and collect them and take them out of the road and will dispose of any weapons.
“Primarily, I’m wanting to ensure these weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands, which sometimes can happen.”
He said that while most people who own air weapons or hold firearms certificates were law abiding, there remained a “small number” who use air weapons recklessly or with criminal intent.
“To help us keep people safe, I would encourage anyone who owns or possesses a firearm or air weapon but can no longer justify its possession to consider surrendering the item.”