A NEW licensing system for the possession of air weapons is to be considered by the Scottish Government, after getting the support of a Holyrood committee.

The proposed Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill will mean anyone who owns an air weapon must show a legitimate reason for owning the weapon in order to get a licence.

It is estimated that there are 500,000 air guns in Scotland and the Bill has been in motion since 2005 when two-year-old Andrew Morton died after being shot in the head by an air gun.

According to the convener of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee, Kevin Stewart, the introduction of the system is both “timely and important”.

Stewart said: “There is no doubt air weapons are dangerous. Recently, a rail worker and a firefighter were shot as they carried out their jobs and this kind of incident happens far too often.”

“That is why we welcome plans to introduce a licensing regime for air weapons. It is a timely and important piece of work. Misuse of these weapons must be addressed and the Bill takes this objective a step closer,” he added.

Although Police Scotland have released figures showing the lowest number of airgun offences since records began in 1980, 171 in the year 2012-13, MSPs voted strongly in favour of the Bill.

Committee members also advised the introducing of an identification mark on every weapon which would allow the police to link it to its owner but said the process must involve a “clear and comprehensive public information campaign”.

The report stated: “Many people may only own an air weapon, and no other form of firearm, and therefore be unaware of the conditions for applying for and holding a firearms certificate.”

“Therefore, we recommend the Scottish Government should work closely with the shooting community, Police Scotland and other key stakeholders to design and implement a comprehensive public information campaign.

“This should begin well in advance of the commencement of any certificate system to allow enough time for those who wish to lawfully dispose of any air weapons to do so.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government believes the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill provides a reasonable, clear and consistent approach to licensing.”

As well as covering air weapons the Bill sets out plans for new restrictions for sexual entertainment venues.

There are around 20 of these venues, which include lap-dancing bars, situated across the country. Current legislation for the industry means that any venue which hosts four or less of these events each year does not require a licence, a “loophole” the committee plans to close. MSPs raised concerns organisers which “circumvent the licensing regime could move from venue to venue avoiding regulation”.