Shooting groups say airgun law could be dangerous.

A major transfer of power from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament, including the power to set air rifle legislation, came a step closer last month, as a new Scotland Bill was laid before the UK Parliament.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, explained that the legislation, which takes forward the recommendations of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution, will see the transfer of various functions from Westminster, including the power to set legislation on the control of airguns.

Mr Moore said the new responsibilities would mean more flexibility for Scotland?s police forces by allowing them ?to create national strategies to keep Scots safe when it comes to air weapons?.

Though now giving Scotland responsibility for airguns, Westminster will remain in control of the power to license other types of firearms.

The Countryside Alliance?s shooting campaign manager, David Taylor, said: ?This is disturbing and illogical. Transfer of powers could easily lead to the misguided licensing of airguns in Scotland, which then would set an entirely wrong precedent for the rest of the UK. Some Scottish politicians have been extremely vocal about licensing because of isolated, tragic offences by criminals acting outside a workable legal framework. If licensing is introduced, there would be a very real chance of border controls and restrictions on free flow of general trade. As it stands, I can travel to Scotland, taking shotguns, rifles and all the ammunition I need to go shooting. If I take an airgun, will I really have to apply to the relevant constabulary for an airgun visitor?s permit? A huge cost burden would simply be passed down to law-abiding shooters, while the criminals operate as before.?

BASC believes the proposals to be unnecessary, particularly at a time when airgun crime in Scotland is falling.

Figures released in October show that airgun crime in Scotland has fallen by 26% since 2007/2008.

A spokesman said: ?BASC believes any new airgun legislation will be unworkable and unenforceable due to the lack of land border controls between England and Scotland.?

Bill Harriman, BASC?s director of firearms, added: ?We do not support devolution of any firearms function to Holyrood. On that basis, we particularly do not support the devolution of legislation of one type of firearm to Holyrood and the retention of the others to Westminster.?

The Scottish National Party?s (SNP) call for airgun controls was previously ruled out by the Home Office. It began while the SNP was still in opposition after the death of two-year-old Andrew Morton five years ago, killed by an airgun pellet shot by Mark Bonini, aged 27, in Glasgow?s east end.

However, the SNP believes the Calman recommendations do not go far enough and wish to see further devolution of firearms controls.

The measures are backed by Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and were part of the Government?s coalition agreement.

Any new powers given to Holyrood would need to be established by an act of the UK Government, though MSPs will also play a key role in debating the package of powers at Holyrood.

The Scotland Office is not expecting the new powers to be in place until about 2015.