The Scottish Government has again pressed to be given the power to set airgun legislation, despite statistics showing that crimes involving airguns in Scotland are at their lowest level for a decade.

The new figures, published last week by Scotland’s chief statistician, show that the number of offences involving airguns dropped from 427 in 2009/10 to 233 in 2010/11.

Since 2006/07, airgun offences have declined by 66%.

However, Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “While the overall number of air weapon offences has dropped again this year, the figure of 233 offences remains too high.”

“We have pressed the UK Government repeatedly to let us take action on air weapons, and it is encouraging that measures are now underway to transfer responsibility for air weapons to the Scottish Parliament.”

“We either need action at a UK-wide level, or the UK Government needs to agree to devolve the current complex and piecemeal firearms legislation wholesale, to ensure that the law is better able to protect Scottish communities.”

BASC Scotland maintains that the existing legislative powers the police have to catch criminals misusing airguns are working, and that a proposed licensing scheme would be both bureaucratic and unnecessary.

Spokesperson, Nicolle Hamilton, said: “At a time when legitimate and law-abiding target shooters and pest controllers are being threatened with a potentially costly licensing scheme, the news that airgun crime has reduced by 45% in the past year alone is to be applauded.

“Airguns are a vital part of target shooting and pest control in Scotland, and the overwhelming majority are used sensibly, lawfully and responsibly.”