The good folk at the Coun­try­side Al­liance are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing the con­tin­ued en­joy­ment of our sport for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions – and if that means pa­per­work, and lots of it, then so be it

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

At the Coun­try­side Al­liance HQ it can feel at times like we are swim­ming against a tide of forms, pa­per­work and con­sul­ta­tions. Take, for ex­am­ple, the Home Of­fice’s two on­go­ing con­sul­ta­tions on “of­fen­sive” weapons and the def­i­ni­tion of an­tique weapons, as well as a re­view on air weapon reg­u­la­tions. While these re­views will only af­fect a small mi­nor­ity of the shoot­ing com­mu­nity, it is of ab­so­lute im­por­tance that the Coun­try­side Al­liance treats each and ev­ery one with the ut­most re­spect.

While these con­sul­ta­tions are launched with ad­mirable in­ten­tions, with the prin­ci­ple aim of en­hanc­ing public safety, they run the risk of un­fairly com­pro­mis­ing peo­ple in the shoot­ing com­mu­nity while fail­ing to ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit any­body.

Ban­ning .50 cal­i­bre ri­fles through the of­fen­sive weapons con­sul­ta­tion be­cause they are high-pow­ered and have the “po­ten­tial range and pen­e­tra­tion” to be a sig­nif­i­cant risk if they were to fall into the wrong hands is a dan­ger­ous prece­dent to set.

The Coun­try­side Al­liance has two ma­jor ques­tions with this at­ti­tude to ban in­stead of fur­ther reg­u­lat­ing the cal­i­bres in­volved:

Firstly, will public safety be im­proved by the ban­ning of these firearms? To our knowl­edge there has not been one crime recorded us­ing a .50 cal­i­bre firearm or the other tar­geted firearm in the con­sul­ta­tion, the VZ 58 man­u­ally ac­tu­ated re­lease sys­tem (MARS) ri­fle.

Sec­ondly, what is the Home Of­fice’s cal­cu­la­tion that draws the line with these ri­fles but al­lows the con­tin­ued use of other cal­i­bres? Sub­se­quently, how long will it be till the Home Of­fice de­cides that other cal­i­bres are also too dan­ger­ous – this is some­thing the UK National Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion de­scribes as “slip­page”. Hav­ing worked tire­lessly through­out the process of the European Firearms Direc­tive – which was launched on the back of the hor­rific events in Paris in 2015 – the CA has vast ex­pe­ri­ence of the im­por­tance of work­able leg­is­la­tion. As this par­tic­u­lar con­sul­ta­tion winds through the Home Of­fice ranks we will be at­tend­ing meet­ings, keep­ing our mem­bers up­dated and hold­ing the gov­ern­ment to ac­count at ev­ery stage.

The im­pend­ing re­view of air weapons in Eng­land and Wales has co­in­cided with a sur­vey for the Scot­tish shoot­ing com­mu­nity which is ask­ing their per­sonal views on the li­cens­ing pro­ce­dures, with par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est on the li­cens­ing of air weapons. Since the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced air weapon li­cens­ing, Po­lice Scot­land have re­mained pos­i­tive. How­ever, the Coun­try­side Al­liance is not 100% cer­tain ev­ery­thing is as smooth as it is be­ing made out to be, so the sur­vey re­sults will be of ex­treme in­ter­est to both the fu­ture of li­cens­ing in Scot­land and the process of air weapon reg­u­la­tion in Eng­land and Wales.

The Coun­try­side Al­liance will keep a close eye on the re­view of air weapons in Eng­land and Wales and will con­tinue to scru­ti­nise bad practice and fail­ing ser­vices across all li­cens­ing de­part­ments in the UK.

This trend in con­sul­ta­tions and re­views un­for­tu­nately does not stop here. Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales (NRW) are cur­rently in the process of no less than five con­sul­ta­tions which are rel­e­vant to the shoot­ing com­mu­nity and ru­ral liveli­hoods. A full re­sponse is re­quired for each and ev­ery con­sul­ta­tion, for we un­der­stand that the NRW’s in­box is be­ing filled with in­ac­cu­rate facts and fig­ures from those that want to see shoot­ing re­stricted. The most de­mand­ing is the one look­ing at the fu­ture use of firearms on NRW-owned land.

In Scot­land, a new group has been formed to fo­cus on the sus­tain­abil­ity of driven grouse moors. We wel­come the in­volve­ment of the Game and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Trust (GWCT) and their sci­en­tific ex­per­tise in this group, and look for­ward to pro­vid­ing ev­i­dence of the con­ser­va­tion, eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits of grouse shoot­ing.

Now more than ever the Coun­try­side Al­liance Cam­paign for Shoot­ing is work­ing to­wards se­cur­ing the fu­ture of shoot­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion and gen­er­a­tions to come, so that they can en­joy the coun­try­side and our rich shoot­ing tra­di­tions as we cur­rently do.

On­go­ing con­sul­ta­tions in­clude those on is­sues sur­round­ing an­tique firearms and .50 cal ri­fles

The work done by the CA will help to en­sure that the next gen­er­a­tion can en­joy shoot­ing and the coun­try­side as we are able to now

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