A law amendment to tighten gun control measures and improve public safety will require all air rifle owners to first become members of shooting clubs.
Speaking to the media after a parliamentary meeting to discuss the bill, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou explained that the amendment aims to restrict air rifle licences to registered athletes who intend to use the gun in sport.
"Our main reason for amending the law is not because of the danger air-rifles pose. It is more to do with the fact that they resemble the firearms criminals use in armed robberies and members of the public often cannot tell the difference."
Since the proposal was put forward for discussion, the Firearms Office of the Police Headquarters has been inundated with thousands of applications for air rifles.
But Nicolaou made clear that once the law is passed even those who already have an air rifle licence will be required to join a shooting club.
A representative of the Cyprus National Shooting Federation said that in order for the law to work it must also require air rifles to conform to Olympic specifications.
"There must be specifications for the diameter of the pellets used and we are also suggesting that the law forces anyone wishing to join a shooting club to first be a member of the Federation."
Gun shop owners warned that even if the law is passed people will still be able to purchase air rifles from the north without conforming to the regulations.
MPs said this will always be the case and is therefore not a good argument against passing the law.
Air rifles are guns that propel projectiles by means of compressed air or other gas in contrast to firearms which use a propellant charge.
Cyprus has fairly strict gun controls with a complete ban on handguns and rifles of all calibres for private citizens. The only firearm members of the public are allowed to use once a licence has been acquired is the double barrelled shotgun which holds two rounds. Pump action and semiautomatic shotguns are prohibited. A licence is also required to buy ammunition and a license holder can only buy 250 cartridges at one time.