Rifles are shoulder-fired long guns with rifling (spiral grooves cut in the bore to make the bullet spin which improves accuracy). A Section 1 Firearms Certificate is required.  Rifles are used for target shooting and hunting foxes, deer and other wildlife.   Following the Hungerford Gun Massacre in 1987 in which 16 people were killed by Michael Ryan using legally-owned military-style guns The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 banned semi-automatic, pump-action and self-loading rifles. 

See ‘Gun Law’ pages.


IDENTIFICATION  Because imitation rifles 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, airgun*, airsoft, replica or other non-licensed gun which looks like a rifle. 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 they are categorised as ‘unidentified’.  Many press reports which refer to ‘rifles’ are likely to involve imitations, deactivated, airsoft, air rifles* and other non-licensed guns which look like rifles.


*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.








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