Scottish Government Launches Air Weapons Campaign

The Scottish Government is running a public information campaign from Monday 16 May 2016 to raise awareness of a new licensing system for air weapons in Scotland that will come into effect on 31 December 2016.

The national campaign will comprise of radio advertising, outdoor and digital advertising, a bespoke website and PR activity. The toolkit, available to download below, is designed to give stakeholders such as Scottish Target Shooting information to promote the campaign through our own communications channels.

Why is a campaign needed?

Part 1 of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, sets out a licensing system that aims to better protect our communities by taking air weapons out of the hands of those who could misuse them.

Although crimes involving guns are significantly down, air weapons were used in almost half of all offences involving a firearm in 2013-14.

To help reduce air weapon misuse in Scotland, the Scottish Government has introduced this new legislation to ensure that legitimate shooters have access to air guns.

This campaign therefore sets out to make people who own or use an air weapon aware that from 1 July 2016 you can apply for an air weapon certificate by downloading an application form from and sending it to Police Scotland.

What are the Scottish Government telling people?

From 31 December 2016 it will be an offence to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland without holding the new licence.

  • After this date air weapon users without a certificate or permit could face a fine or imprisonment of up to two years.
  • It is estimated there are currently around half a million air weapons in Scotland.
  • There were 182 air weapon offences in 2013-14, the equivalent of an offence using an air weapon every second day of the year.
  • For more information visit

When will the campaign run?

Campaign activity will run from Monday 16 May – Sunday 16 October and Police Scotland will be conducting a hand-in of air weapons from Monday 23 May – Sunday 12 June.

Scottish Government ambition

To encourage people who possess or intend to possess or use an air weapon to visit where they will find information on how to apply for a licence, what weapons need a licence, and where to hand weapons in if they no longer use them.

What will the campaign look like?

Outdoor advertising: Examples of the outdoor advertising are included within this toolkit.

Website: The website offers information on the new legislation and advice on how to apply for a licence to people who use, possess, acquire and purchase air weapons.

Digital advertising: Digital adverts will run throughout the campaign period.

Radio advertising: Radio adverts will run from 23 May – 5 June to highlight the Police Scotland hand-in period with a second burst in July to make people aware that they can apply for their licence from 1 July.

How can you get involved?

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The Scottish Government wants to reach as many air weapon owners and users as possible during the campaign period and would appreciate your help in spreading the word through your own clubs and networks.

Social media

The campaign won’t have a dedicated social media account so the Scottish Government will be encouraging stakeholders to support the campaign by posting campaign messages and images.

Below are suggested social media posts to support the first of the four strands of campaign activity:

  • No licence, no air gun. That’s the message to air weapon users. Visit for more info.
  • Do you use an air weapon? From 1 July 2016 you can apply for a certificate or permit at #nolicencenoairgun
  • After 31 Dec, air weapon users caught without a certificate or permit could face a fine or imprisonment.
  • Make sure you apply early, licensing process open from 1 July.

Further posts on each of the strands of activity will be sent to your organisations separately and we’d encourage you to accompany any Twitter and Facebook posts with the campaign hashtag #nolicencenoairgun