Airgun owners in Scotland look set to be forced to apply for certificates after the Scotland Bill, which devolves licensing powers to Holyrood, was passed in the House of Lords.

The bill, which is expected to receive royal assent this month, will allow the Scottish Government to press ahead with its plans to introduce licensing of low-powered air rifles.

Owners of the estimated 500,000 airguns in Scotland and anyone who intends to travel north of the Border with an airgun, will be affected.

A spokesman for the Gun Trade Association (GTA) said: ?Throughout the progress of the bill, Lord Shrewsbury has been extensively briefed by the GTA, submitting amendments and speaking on no less than four occasions in the House.?

?He has highlighted the many problems which the Scottish Executive will encounter when the bill becomes law and the Scots seek to introduce a licensing system for low-powered airguns in Scotland. The GTA is confident that nothing more could have been done to inject reason and balance into the bill.?

The Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel (the committee set up to consider the options for licensing airguns in Scotland) has already met three times in Edinburgh, and has made it clear that the Scottish Government wants to see a licensing system in place sometime after 2013.

Membership of the panel also includes representatives of five shooting organisations: BASC Scotland, the British Shooting Sports Council, the Scottish Air Rifle and Pistol Association, the Gun Trade Association (and the Airgun Manufacturers & Trade Association) and the Scottish Target Shooting Federation.

Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland, said: ?BASC remains opposed to airgun licensing, but recognises that standing on the sidelines and shouting will have less influence than representing the interests of all airgun shooters at these key meetings.?

?In addition, the Government does value the concerns of the shooting community being aired at these early stages.?

He continued: ?We argue that any licensing scheme must take into account the large number of airguns thought to be in Scotland (the majority being of a low value), and the declining number of offences involving airguns.?

?We also feel that existing certificate holders should not be inconvenienced just because they happen to have an air rifle as well as shotguns or sporting rifles; that young people should be fully accommodated; and that those who wish to visit Scotland with an air rifle should not be deterred by bureaucracy for bureaucracy?s sake.?

?Cost is another important matter to consider. Who is going to apply for a licence if it costs more than the value of the airgun??

Shooters who wish to give their views should contact Mr Shedden by email, colin.shedden@basc.org.uk

Say what you think in the Shooting UK forums!