And he said while police were now processing these “as quickly as possible”, those awaiting a decision “must make arrangements to have their air weapons stored in a safe and appropriate place – either with someone who has an air weapon, firearm or shot gun certificate, or a registered firearm dealer”.
He goes on to warn they must do this “to avoid committing an offence”.
The Air Weapons and Licencing Act made it an offence for anyone to own an airgun without an official licence as of January 1.
The SNP’s bid to do this has been consistently criticised, particularly in rural communities where they are necessary for work.
The answer came following a question in parliament by Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins.
Shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross also posed questions in Holyrood yesterday on the issue, including on why 500,000 air guns were still unaccounted for.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation warned the moves would do nothing to cut crime, and instead place an extra burden on police firearms licencing teams.
It added the six-month timeframe for getting all airguns licenced was too short.
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said:
“This unnecessary process has been a mess from the start.
“Now those who complied with the rules are being told to get rid of their weapon and keep it at a friend’s house.
“This is a chaotic approach from the SNP, and hardly provides any confidence that it’s on top of this issue.
“It’s already a major inconvenience for law-abiding people who need air weapons for work to go through this process, and having to call on the help of a gun-owning neighbour makes it worse still.
“It shows again that the SNP doesn’t know rural Scotland, and doesn’t stand up for its interests.”