Imitation guns are designed to look like real guns, regardless of whether or not they are capable of discharging a projectile. They are cheap, accessible to buy on impulse and no background checks are required. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 provides details of colour requirements for imitation BB guns which differentiates them from realistic imitation firearms (RIFs). Imitation guns can only be held by those over 18. It is an offence to carry an imitation gun in a public place without a legitimate reason. It is an offence to modify an imitation firearm to make it realistic.
See ‘Gun Law’ pages.
IDENTIFICATION Because imitation guns look like real guns it can be impossible to tell without close examination if a gun being brandished during an incident is real or an imitation, deactivated, airsoft, replica, bb, toy or paintball gun, or an airgun. Victims of armed crime are traumatised and not surprisingly unable to identify the gun being used to assault them. Media reporting is unreliable and unless guns are fired or recovered and can be authenticated they are categorised as ‘unidentified’. Many press reports which refer to ‘handguns’ are likely to involve imitation handguns, replica, airsoft airguns* and other non-licensed guns which look like handguns.
*The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill
The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2015 and received the Royal Assent in August 2015. Under the provisions of the Act it will be an offence for a person to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland without holding an air weapon certificate.