Air guns should not be subject to strict licensing restrictions according to the majority of respondents to a Government consultation.

A Scottish Government examination on proposals for licensing air weapons returned 1101 responses, with 87% opposed to licensing.

The proposals were described as "misconceived", "disproportionate", "draconian" and "heavy-handed" by opponents, some of whom argued that an air gun is not a weapon.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "We have always been clear that licensing will happen and this has been a valuable exercise in highlighting issues and drawing out concerns around our suggested changes.

"It is important we now consider all views submitted as we continue to develop a system of licensing that is fair, proportionate and practicable for police and shooters alike. It is simply not right that in a modern Scotland air guns are available without a licence."

While the vast majority opposed licensing in principle, only a minority of these actually engaged with the consultation and provided reasons for their opposition.

Shooting is a sport which "is ideal for families, women, the elderly and the disabled", licensing opponents said.

They argued licensing would be costly, bureaucratic, unnecessary for less powerful guns, and could criminalise otherwise law-abiding gun owners and drive the trade in air guns "underground".

The "politically motivated" proposals would impact on tourism, deter newcomers from taking up shooting and would impinge on personal freedoms, opponents said.

The minority that supported stricter regulation said airguns are used to injure and kill wildlife.

Some said they had been shot with an air gun. Others said the government's licensing proposals do not go far enough.