FIGURES revealing a record low number of firearms offences in Scotland expose the Tories as “once again putting political point-scoring ahead of public safety”, an SNP MSP has said.

New statistics show that police recorded a total of 348 firearms offences during 2017-18 – the lowest total since current data collection began in 1980.

While 55% of those offences involved an air weapon, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the number of crimes where an airgun was used has dropped by one-third since the Scottish Government brought in licensing in 2015-16.

However, Tory MSPs voted against the proposals, stating that “law-abiding shooters will now have to face the bureaucratic administrative nightmare that will be air-gun licensing for no public benefit whatsoever”.

Scotland is the only part of the UK where licences are needed for air weapons. SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “The SNP have a long-standing commitment to reducing crime and the licensing of air weapons has been central to that aim.

“Since the SNP introduced changes in 2015, there has been a drastic drop in air weapons offences in Scotland – of course this would not have been possible without the dedication of our local police officers.

“The Tories made a conscious decision to ignore the concerns of the public when they voted against these landmark reforms four years ago. With the publication of these figures, the Tories have been exposed once again for putting political point scoring ahead of public safety.

“The SNP Government will continue to work hard alongside Police Scotland to ensure this reduction in offences continues.”

The figures showed 36% of firearms offences took place in someone’s home and 20% on the street. A total of 8% were committed in a shop. Use of a pistol or revolver made up 17% of the total number of offences, with imitation firearms comprising 13% and shotguns with 11% of the total. Offences involving a rifle made up 4% of the statistics.

Yousaf said: “These figures show we are continuing to make progress in tackling firearms misuse with offences now at their lowest level for any single year since 1980.

“Since our licensing legislation was passed in 2015-16, offences involving an air weapon have fallen by a third. This is testament to the hard work of Police Scotland and partners in introducing the new regime.”