Almost two-thirds of Scotland’s police officers want to have access to a handgun, according to new research.
A survey by the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) found that 64% of officers support such a move.
The finding came as around an eighth of the workforce said they believe their existing personal protective equipment (PPE) is “ineffective”.
Federation bosses said officers feel “vulnerable and ill-equipped” as they called for change.
The SPF represents 98% of all officers in Scotland, in the ranks of constable, sergeant, inspector and chief inspector, as well as police cadets and special constables.
At its conference in spring, the SPF debated the suitability of the PPE issued to officers by Police Scotland and a more detailed membership study on the issue was authorised.
The findings, published on Tuesday, state that the issue of handguns is “the most controversial” of the options looked at by the study.
Across the force, 64% of officers said they would like to have access to a handgun and 77% said they would be willing to be trained in its use.
Within the 25 to 34 age group, the percentage favouring access to a handgun rose to 73%.
“Younger officers, those most likely to be working in response roles, clearly articulate the risk they feel from firearms and edged weapons,” the report stated.