Air Guns and the Law

In Scotland, from January 1st 2017, it is an offence to have an air gun if you do not possess an Air Weapon License or are otherwise a person prohibited from possessing a firearm by section 21 of the 1968 Act. This section prohibits anyone who has been sentenced to a custodial sentence of between three months and three years from possessing an air weapon or other firearm for five years from the date of release.

  • Anyone sentenced to three years or more is prohibited for life.
  • It is an offence to fire an airgun within fifty feet (fifteen metres) of the centre of a public road/path in such a way as to endanger or impede any road user/pedestrian.
  • It is an offence to shoot protected wild birds or animals. When live quarry shooting, it is your responsibility to make sure that you only shoot legal quarry.
  • It is an offence to shoot pet animals. Besides being abhorrent to most people, this is above all others, the offence that gives all airgun shooters a bad name.
  • It is an offence to have an air weapon with intent to damage property.
  • It is an offence to have an air weapon with intent to endanger life.

Air Weapons & Licensing (Scotland) ACT 2015

Part 1 of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 sets out a licensing system that will help to better protect Scottish communities.  

You can find the legislation at  

In summary, the legislation:

  • Sets out the air weapons which need to be licensed
  • Broadly follows the principles and practices of existing firearms legislation
  • Allows a fit person to obtain a licence to own, possess and shoot an air weapon in a regulated way, without compromising public safety
  • Sets out appropriate enforcement and penalties to deal with any person who contravenes the new regime
  • If you are unsure if your air weapon falls under the new legislation you can check it against this guide

You can dowload a PDF file containing a guide to the new licensing law HERE.


Airguns can, in the wrong hands, be lethal. However, by following a set of simple, commonsense safety rules, you can ensure that you are never the cause of an accident.

  • Always treat any gun as if it was loaded.
  • Never point your gun at another person.
  • Never carry a loaded air weapon in a public place and when you are carrying your gun in public, keep it fastened securely away in a gun slip or case. (A full magazine is also classed as a loaded gun)
  • Never load your gun until you are ready to shoot.
  • Never fire your gun unless you are certain the shot will be a safe one. This means checking there are no other people nearby who might be endangered by the shot and ensuring there is a suitable backstop to catch pellets and prevent ricochets.
  • When at a shoot, never let your gun out of your sight.
  • Never let young children near your gun unsupervised.
  • Never touch anyone else's gun unless you have permission.

After using your gun, make sure it is unloaded and store it in a secure place to which children cannot gain access and Store ammunition in a separate secure place.

Getting Started

Air weapons are only sold from firearms dealerships of which Wonderland are one. The law was changed and Internet and online sales were banned. You can still purchase from shops across the country but they can only be sent to a RFD (registered firearms dealer) for collection. The buying and selling of second hand air rifles and pistols remains unaffected.

Air rifles with muzzle energies of less than 12 foot pounds (16.3 joules) and air pistols with muzzle energies of less than 6 foot pounds (8.15 joules) don't require a full firearms licence but will require a valid Air Weapons License (in Scotland and for sales conducted in Scotland) to purchase.

Any air rifle with a with a muzzle energy greater than 12 foot pounds is only available to section 1 F.A.C. (fire arms certificate holder). A firearm certificate is available from your local police firearms licensing department. Air pistols with muzzle energies greater than 6 foot pounds may only be acquired with the authority of the Secretary of State.

Self contained gas cartridge system (these are manufactured by Brocock also known as ‘SCAC' Cartridges and does NOT include the CO2 cartridges used in CO2 rifles and pistols) are prohibited weapons which may only be acquired with the authority of the Secretary of State. If you are in any doubt, seek advice from your local police firearms licensing department.

Having bought your gun, you can use it for a number of purposes including target shooting, vermin control and hunting small ground game/ vermin. However, if you have never shot before, you would be well advised to go to a shooting club with an airgun section and learn from a qualified instructor how to handle your gun safely and responsibly and become an accurate shot. You may find that target shooting provides all the challenge you need or you may want to move on to shooting live quarry. The closest air gun club is at Juniper Green Air Rifle Club on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Live Quarry / Vermin Control

If you do move on to live quarry shooting you must be careful only to shoot on private property over which you have permission to shoot. Provided you follow the safety rules contained in this leaflet, you will be able to shoot safely and enjoyably even on quite small pieces of ground.

In Conclusion

You should always remember that airguns are capable of inflicting severe injuries and even of killing people. To help change this perception by using your gun in a way that demonstrates that airgun shooters are, in the main responsible people who pose no threat to anyone. Always follow the guidelines set out in this information.

Air Weapons: A Brief Guide to Safety