Airgun owners in Scotland will have six months to obtain certificates for their weapons before new laws come into force at the end of the year.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has set out the timings to the Scottish parliament for the controversial air weapons licensing scheme, which begins this year.
The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 will come into effect from December 31st, 2016, meaning that airgun owners must have a licence before then.
They can begin applying for these air weapon certificates or permits from July 1st. However, no fee has yet been confirmed.
But David Pullan at Borders Gun Room in Roxburghshire said they have already seen the effects of the law change.
“We have definitely seen a drop in airgun sales already while more and more people are coming in trying to trade in their arguns.
“It is a complete pain in the neck as it will delay everything and make selling airguns much harder work for all of us.”
Nevertheless, from the start of 2017 it will be an offence to have an air weapon without the proper licence, unless a person is exempt. Anyone found guilty of committing an offence under the act could face a fine or up to two years in prison.
It is thought there are around half a million unlicensed airguns in Scotland.
Airgun manufacturer Daystate’s Tony Belas added: “It is very concerning. If the Scots deem this licensing a success I am worried it will encourage the rest of the UK to follow suit – there is a real danger it could set a precedent.
“Being a member of an airgun club would be a ‘good reason’ to own an air rifle but I foresee a number of unofficial clubs being formed that could help airgun buyers qualify for a licence!”
Gun Trade Association director John Batley said: “Effectively, this means that airgun owners in Scotland have six months to apply for a licence, although the full details of how and the cost have yet to be released. We will update our members in due course.”
Police Scotland has also confirmed that it will be running a campaign to allow people to hand in any unwanted air weapons before licensing takes effect.