A row broke out on Thursday after the Scottish Government announced it is pressing ahead with plans to license airguns.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the new rules would help address problems caused by weapons that fall into the wrong hands.
He claimed 47% of all firearms offences in 2012-13 involved the use of an air weapon.
Mr MacAskill said the legislation was among the toughest in the world and “strikes the right balance” between protecting communities and allowing legitimate shooting in a safe environment to continue.
But the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) claimed the legislation was “draconian” and unnecessary.
Director Jamie Stewart said: “We do not believe lower-powered air rifles need to be licensed as the vast majority of those who hold and use them, as part of an organised pest control exercise or who shoot recreationally, pose no threat to the wider public.
“This legislation comes against falling airgun crime and will do nothing to protect the public, while penalising responsible owners and being a bureaucratic and administrative nightmare for the police.”
There are an estimated 500,000 air weapons in Scotland.
The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill will bring in a licensing system that is broadly similar to existing firearms legislation.
It will be an offence for someone to “use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon without holding a valid air weapon certificate”.
Children aged under 14 will not be allowed to hold an air weapons certificate in their own right, but will still be allowed to shoot air weapons “in suitable circumstances if appropriately supervised”.
Mr MacAskill yesterday met Glasgow campaigner Sharon McMillan, who has been calling for airguns to be licensed since her two-year-old son Andrew Morton died in hospital two days after being shot with one in 2005.
Mr MacAskill said the “continued pain” the youngster’s family suffers makes him “even more determined to ensure we have robust legislation to prevent future tragedies”.
“We are not banning air weapons outright but there has to be a legitimate use for them,” he added.
The Bill will also bring in tighter licensing for scrap metal dealers in a bid to curb metal theft.
Archie MacIver, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s licensing law sub-committee, said: “We broadly agree with the measures proposed in the bill, but we have questioned whether they will have the desired effect of properly regulating the use of air weapons in Scotland.”