PROTECTING, PROMOTING AND REPRESENTING THE UK GUN TRADE SINCE 1891
Dear Secretary of State,
The Gun Trade Association represents around 600 companies involved in the manufacture, distribution and retail of guns and ammunition for sporting and professional use. Most of our companies have been adversely affected by the recent revocation and amendments to the General Licences for wild bird species.
The sudden revocation of the General Licence with no previous consultation produced considerable confusion and dismay amongst our members and their customers. We have been providing information to them subsequently and collecting evidence of the effects of its impact.
Most of our retailers are based in rural areas where lethal control of pests by shooting forms part of everyday life. Even with existing levels of control, pest species have continued to have a deleterious effect on the environment. These pests cause economic damage to crops and to biodiversity through predation on other species. Lethal control measures remain key to controlling the environmental balance. The further restrictions on pigeon control in the new general licence will only make the problem worse. The use of sporting shots to help control pigeons throughout the season is central to the overall management plan.
In the short term it is ammunition sales that have suffered most. One dealer reported a drop in sales from 4,000 pigeon cartridge a week to nothing. We have also seen an early reduction in gun sales attributed to a fall in confidence levels. Accessories for pest shooting are also down. There are feelings that the government are bending to any political pressure, rather than doing the right thing.
The British countryside is formed of a complex web of interdependent activities and businesses. The lethal control of pest species has always been a necessary part of managing the environment and it needs to continue. Environmental balance and biodiversity is maintained through such human intervention. The British Gun Trade is an important part of that network and gun trade jobs and livelihoods depend on it.
For the sake of food production and rural biodiversity, shooting pest species must continue. The revocation and the re-issued variants have had a negative effect on livelihoods in the gun trade as well as the British countryside. It is unacceptable that political interference should be able to create such a sudden and destructive effect. We request urgent reinstatement of the original regime.
Simon West OBE MA BSc(Hons)