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Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015

Permits

Section 12 – Police permits

43.This section makes provision for police permits, which are distinct from air weapon certificates and are intended for use in transient situations where an individual may find themselves in possession of an air weapon, but grant of an air weapon certificate would not be appropriate (for example, where the executor of an estate takes possession of an air weapon when ingathering the deceased’s property). In this respect this section is intended to perform a similar function to that of section 7 of the 1968 Act, which allows the police to issue similar permits to allow the temporary possession of a firearm covered by section 1 or 2 of that Act. This section should be read in conjunction with the exemption at paragraph 8 of schedule 1 to the Act.

44.Subsection (1) sets out that the Chief Constable may issue a permit to allow an individual to possess or acquire an air weapon without holding an air weapon certificate, and/ or to sell an air weapon in the course of business (without being a Registered Firearms Dealer). These permissions may be applied or omitted from the permit at the Chief Constable’s discretion. Subsection (2) states that a police permit must not be granted to anyone prohibited from possessing firearms under section 21 of the 1968 Act, which is explained in more detail at paragraph 17 of these Notes.

45.Subsection (3) allows police permits to have variable durations, set at the discretion of the Chief Constable in each case but, as reflects the transient situation for which a permit is to cater, the duration of a permit is not intended to be of the order of that for an air weapon certificate.

46.Subsection (4) provides that applications for a police permit must comply with the requirements set out in regulations made under section 36 or the application will not be treated as having been made. The effect is that an application for a permit cannot be considered by the Chief Constable if the application processes set out in the regulations are not followed. Separately, section 35(3) has the effect that where an application is made in compliance with the application processes it still cannot be considered by the Chief Constable until the fee is paid.

Section 13 – Visitor permits

47.This and the following related sections provide for a system whereby visitors to Scotland may apply to the Chief Constable for a permit to use, possess, purchase or acquire air weapons while in Scotland, without holding an air weapon certificate. This section should be read in conjunction with the exemption at paragraph 9 of schedule 1.

48.Subsection (4) sets out the criteria for grant of a visitor permit. For individual visitors, subsection (4)(a) requires the applicant to have a good reason, and subsection (4)(c) provides that the visitor must not be prohibited from possessing firearms, nor should their possession of an air weapon present a danger to the public. These requirements match those for applicants for an air weapon certificate in section 5, with the omission of the ‘fit person’ test which would be difficult to apply effectively to visitors from abroad.

49.Subsections (2) and (3) allow for applications by groups of two to 20 people to be made on behalf of the group. The Chief Constable does not have to grant or refuse every member of the group a permit en bloc and can reject some while accepting others. Subsection (4)(b) provides that the Chief Constable must be satisfied that each member of the group individually is to use and possess an air weapon only for certain purposes. Each member of the group individually must also not be prohibited from possessing firearms, nor should their possession of an air weapon present a danger to the public. Subsection (5) permits the Chief Constable to require proof from the person applying on behalf of the group that the group has the permission of the owner or occupier of the land in question for the activities mentioned in subsection (4)(b)(i) and (ii).

50.Subsection (6) requires the Chief Constable to attach a condition to a visitor permit granted as part of a group application which restricts the permit holder to taking part in the activity or activities listed in subsection (4)(b) for which the permit has been granted. However, subsection (6) does not apply to a visitor who is part of a group but is aged 14-17, who will be subject to the separate restrictions under section 14.

51.Subsection (7) allows visitor permits to have variable durations, set at the discretion of the Chief Constable, although subsection (8) sets a maximum duration of 12 months.

52.Subsection (9) requires that an application for a visitor permit must comply with the requirements set out in regulations issued under section 36 or it will not be regarded as having been made. The effect is that an application for a permit cannot be considered by the Chief Constable if the application processes set out in the regulations are not followed. Separately, section 35(3) has the effect that where an application is made in compliance with the application processes it still cannot be considered by the Chief Constable until the fee is paid.

53.Subsection (10) provides definitions, including specifying that applicants for a visitor permit must be aged 14 or over, and must live outside Scotland but intend to visit (or, be visiting at the time of application).

Section 14 – Visitor permits: young persons

54.This section makes provision where applications for visitor permits are from people under 18 years of age. When read with the definition of “qualifying visitor” in section 13(10) the effect is that this section applies to applicants aged 14 to 17 years.

55.Subsection (2) requires that applications for a visitor permit from an individual aged 14 to 17 years must contain a statement of consent from the applicant’s parent or guardian, set out in a form to be specified in regulations made under section 36. The term “guardian” is defined at section 40(1) and should be construed in light of the relevant jurisdiction of the applicant.

56.Subsections (3) and (4) provide that certain mandatory conditions set out in section 7 must be applied to visitor permits granted to young people, either individually or as part of a group. This means that young people with a visitor permit are subject to equivalent conditions as a young person residing in Scotland who holds an air weapon certificate.

57.Subsection (5) makes equivalent provision to that in section 7(6) as a young person with a visitor permit will not be able to purchase, hire, accept a gift of or own an air weapon while in Scotland.

Section 15 – Police and visitor permits: conditions

58.This section relates to conditions that are applied to police and visitor permits which have been granted under section 12 or section 13 respectively. Conditions will have the same effect as described in section 6. Subsection (1) sets out that all such permits will be subject to any mandatory conditions, which will be specified in regulations issued under section 36. Subsection (2) allows the Chief Constable to attach additional conditions to police and visitor permits as required.

59.Subsection (3) specifies that conditions attached by the Chief Constable must not be inconsistent with or undermine the effect of any of the mandatory conditions required by subsection (1), or any other condition attached as a requirement of this Part (for example, by virtue of the visitor’s age (under section 14) and/ or their being part of a group (under section 13)).

60.Subsections (4) and (5) make it an offence for the permit holder to contravene any condition attached to a permit under this section, and set out the penalty. This offence attracts strict liability.

Section 16 – Police and visitor permits: variation and revocation

61.This section relates to variation and revocation of police permits or visitor permits which have been granted under section 12 and section 13 respectively.

62.Subsection (1) allows the Chief Constable to vary any details on a police permit or a visitor permit after it has been granted, including adding, amending or removing conditions, except any mandatory condition required by section 15(1), or any conditions which must be attached to a visitor permit by virtue of the visitor’s age (under section 14) and/ or their being part of a group (under section 13). Subsection (2) provides that a variation may occur either on the application of the permit holder, or at the Chief Constable’s discretion although the Chief Constable is obliged to notify the permit holder of the changes made. Subsection (4) allows the Chief Constable to require a permit holder to relinquish their permit within 21 days, for the purpose of varying it in this way. Guidance is expected to set out that failure to surrender a permit in this way would be grounds for the permit to be revoked.

63.Subsection (3) specifies that conditions attached by the Chief Constable must not be inconsistent with or undermine the effect of any of the mandatory conditions required by section 15(1), or any other condition attached as a requirement of this Part (for example, by virtue of the visitor’s age (under section 14) and/ or their being part of a group (under section 13)).

64.Subsection (1)(d) allows the Chief Constable to revoke a police or visitor permit at any time, at the Chief Constable’s discretion. The Chief Constable must notify the permit holder of the revocation, and subsection (5) requires this notification to provide at least seven days’ notice of revocation, within which time the permit holder must relinquish the revoked permit and any air weapons possessed.

65.Subsections (6) and (7) make it an offence for a permit holder to fail, without reasonable excuse, to relinquish a permit for the purpose of revocation within the timescale specified by the Chief Constable.

66.Subsection (8) provides that when a permit holder appeals against a decision to revoke a permit, the notice period for that revocation is put on hold until the outcome of the appeal is known. However, by virtue of subsection (8)(b) the holder must still surrender the permit and any weapons to the Chief Constable. This mirrors the provision at section 11(7).

Section 17 – Event permits

67.This section provides for air weapon event permits. These are distinct from other permits as they are to be required where an event is to take place at which people may borrow, hire, use or possess an air weapon for a short timescale, without holding individual air weapon certificates. Examples of situations where an event permit might be granted would be a Highland Games with an air weapon shooting component, or a variant of modern biathlon or pentathlon. This section should be read in conjunction with the exemption at paragraph 10 of schedule 1.

68.Subsection (1) sets out that applications for an event permit should be made to the Chief Constable, by a person responsible for the event. A “person” here includes non-natural (e.g. corporate bodies) as well as natural persons. Event permits are granted at the Chief Constable’s discretion, and permit the borrowing, hiring, possessing and/or using of air weapons at a specified time and place, for the purpose of participating in a planned event activity as defined at subsection (7). Subsection (2) adds that the Chief Constable may attach conditions to an event permit as required.

69.Subsection (3) requires that an event permit – or a copy thereof – be displayed at the event to which it pertains. This requirement allows a participant at the event to confirm that a permit is in place and the exemption therefore applies when handling air weapons.

70.Subsections (4) and (5) create the offence of failing to comply with any condition attached to an event permit, or failing to display the permit as required by subsection (3) without a reasonable excuse. In either case the offence is committed by the event organiser named on the permit and attracts strict liability.

71.Subsection (6) states that applications for an event permit cannot be considered unless they comply with the requirements set out in regulations to be made under section 36. Separately, section 35(3) has the effect that where an application is made in compliance with the application processes it still cannot be considered by the Chief Constable until the fee is paid.

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Text created by the Scottish Executive department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills

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