Rank-and-file officers have warned the police do not have the money to administer a proposed air gun licensing system.
The Scottish Police Federation (SPS) said existing IT systems and staff would not be able to deal with the extra workload without “significant disruption”.
The organisation warned the new legislation being considered by MSPs failed to take into account problems in remote areas, such as the Highlands, where most firearm certificate applications were handled by normal, not specialised licensing officers.
Under the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill all owners of air weapons will be required to get a certificate.
The bill, introduced to the Scottish Parliament in May, is a long-standing SNP commitment to crackdown on the reckless use of air weapons following the death of two-year-old Andrew Morton, of Glasgow, who was shot in the head in 2005.
The SPS, which represents 98% of officers across Scotland, supports the need for stricter control of air weapons, but has concerns over aspects of the legislation.
In a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s local government and regeneration committee, it points out there are around 500,000 air weapons in circulation and at the same time there are 60,000 firearms and shotgun certificate holders.
“The police do have the knowledge and experience however the capacity of the infrastructure to deal with the increase in workload cannot be accurately estimated at this time,” it said.
“It is our belief that without additional resources the service will struggle to deal with this additional demand.”
The SPS doubted whether the current licensing team could take on additional work without “significant disruption”.
The bill fails to take cognisance of more remote areas where existing firearms licensing is handled by local officers, it said.
“For example N division (Highlands and Islands) have very few staff directly involved in firearms licensing but has some 22% or the national workload of firearms licensing.” according to the SPS.
While the government estimates that the majority of certificates requiring further inquiry should be handled in just under three hours, “in our more remote areas then 5 hours will not be unusual for the length of time taken when including travelling”.
Graham Ellis, chairman of the Scottish Air Rifle and Pistol Association, said air gun owners already have to sign a register whenever they purchase a weapon with a retailer.
“They have massively under-budgeted on what it is going to take to run something that will achieve nothing,” he said.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has long held the belief that air weapons should be licensed and is committed to doing so. We are interested to see responses to the bill, which will be considered in detail by the local government and regeneration committee.”