GUN controls introduced in the wake of the Dunblane tragedy have made the system safe enough for a relaxation of firearms law, it has been claimed.

Exactly two decades since 16 school children and their teacher were gunned down by scout master Thomas Hamilton, field sports lobbyists want more exemptions of the kinds seen for for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Olympics.

They believe checks and balances - including new ones introduced next month - have revolutionised firearms controls to such an extent that exemptions would be safe.

From April, GPs will record firearm licence applications on their patients’ notes and be required to notify the police of any factors which might be of concern.

A permanent marker will be held on the records of firearms certificate holders.

A 'Gun Safety Line', operated by Crimestoppers, also opens this year and allows anyone to register concerns about a gun owner, whether legal or not.

However, Gill Marshall-Andrews, of the Gun Control Network, warned against further exemptions.

She said: "The UK now has some of the tightest gun controls and lowest rates of gun violence in the world but the pressure from shooters to roll back gun control legislation is as strong as ever."

Following the Dunblane massacre, the government banned private possession of handguns almost completely.

There were some limited exceptions to the ban in 2012 and 2014 but even the UK's Olympic shooters fall under the controls and can only train in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or Switzerland, in practice.

Around 162,000 pistols and 700 tons of ammunition and related equipment were handed in by an estimated 57,000 people.

A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said there was room for some relaxation of the rules.

He said: “There was quite rightly a huge public outcry at the time of the awful Dunblane tragedy and it is understandable the families and the public demanded action in the aftermath.

“Banning guns will never, solely, be the answer to ending gun crime. The acid test will always be whether it has prevented criminals from acquiring and using guns.

“In the fields of shooting or gamekeeping, criminal acts involving firearms remain few and far between and have done for many years.

"They are not held for any constitutional right to defence, like in the US, but for legitimate activity and work.

“In order to enable sporting shooters to train in their own country and to ensure the sport continues for future generations, there should be an ability to alter the legislation, carefully, to bring in a tight exemption for that specific purpose.”

Christopher Graffius, spokesman for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Britain's largest country shooting organisation with over 120,000 members, agreed.

He said: "We have the opportunity now because firearms licensing practices and systems have changed incredibly, they have been revolutionised, since that awful tragedy two decades ago.

"We're now talking about computerised police forces and real-time reporting and indeed changes coming through the political system means 24/7 365 available medical reports.

"In Scotland shooting influences 4.5 million hectares of land, has a conservation labour force of 3900 full-time equivalent jobs and produces an actual full-time equivalent workforce of 8800 and is worth £200 million."

Mick North, whose daughter Sophie was one of those killed at Dunblane, stressed the legacy of the ban.

Speaking to the Radio Times, he said: "Are we and our children now safer from guns? The answer is a definite 'yes'.

"Gun crime is significantly lower, gun murders are extremely rare and criminals are finding it harder than ever to get guns."