Bill Harriman from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has insisted "shooting has an enviable record of safe use" after an air rifle incident in Bristol.
A one year-old boy is fighting for his life in hospital after being shot with an air gun. Two people have been charged in connection to the incident, and a reporting restriction is in place as the charges begin.
Harriman, who is the Director of Firearms for BASC, expressed his sadness at the news.
"I felt sick to the bottom of my stomach when I heard about this," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "As for safety, I have to say shooting has an enviable record of safe use. The suggestion it has to be confined to clubs really doesn't actually work.
"There are very few of these dreadful incidents, and I don't think putting further restrictions is going to help."
An air rifle projects pellets by use of compressed air or gas like carbon dioxide. They are safer than real firearms, but are still capable of dealing serious injury. Despite the risks, Harriman was in favour of their possession.
"I have firearms in my home," he added. "They are carefully secured and I look after them.
"There are laws governing the use of firearms to anyone under the age of 18, but I think once you're an adult, you need to be given a certain amount of freedom and the responsibility which goes with this."