Thousands of air weapons surrendered during amnesty

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Media captionPolice Scotland say 11,569 weapons are handed in during a three-week amnesty on airguns.

Crossbows, rifles and pistols dating back to World War Two are among thousands of air weapons surrendered during a police amnesty.

Police Scotland said 11,569 weapons were surrendered during a three-week amnesty which ended on 12 June.

An additional 1,000 have been handed in to officers across Scotland since then.

The force will continue to accept them until 31 December, when new laws make it a criminal offence to have an air weapon without a licence or permit.

Anyone found guilty of the new offence could be fined or face up to two years in prison.

Unwanted weapons

Chief Constable Phil Gormley hailed the response to the three week campaign as "fantastic".

He added: "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 [hand them in], 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 Two, will now be taken away and destroyed to ensure they are off our streets forever."

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Police Scotland released images of some of the weapons that have been surrendered

Breakdown of surrendered air weapons by area

North east - 1,562

Forth Valley - 800

Tayside - 1,018

Edinburgh - 616

Glasgow - 1,020

The Lothians and Scottish Borders - 1,210

Renfrewshire and Inverclyde - 470

Argyll and West Dunbartonshire - 517

Highlands and Islands - 1,287

Fife - 784

Lanarkshire - 933

Ayrshire - 739

Dumfries and Galloway - 613

Source: Police Scotland

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and Chief Constable Phil Gormley viewed the weapons

Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the response to the amnesty was "extremely encouraging".

"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," he said.

"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."

The legislation was passed by MSPs in June 2015.

It has been estimated there could be 500,000 airguns in Scotland, with the weapons used in 182 crimes in 2013/14 - about half of all firearms offences.

The Scottish government pledged to introduce the licensing scheme following the death of Glasgow toddler Andrew Morton, who was shot dead by an airgun in 2005.

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