FROM THE DIRECTOR
This ‘From the Director’ is written mainly as a tribute to Colin Greenwood who died on November 10th . Colin was one of the strongest advocates the shooting industry has ever known and he will be greatly missed by many more in the trade than those who actually knew him and even more missed by those who had the privilege to work with him.
I was one of those who worked with Colin, for nearly fifteen years in fact, and I benefitted immensely from the time that I spent with him. More importantly, the gun trade benefitted immensely. As a new boy at the GTA I would phone Colin with some either improbable, or even impossible, question on Firearms Legislation to be told with great clarity and a fine Yorkshire accent: ‘Read the words boy, read the words’. Having read the words everything would become clearer and the message would be passed on to the Member.
That instruction to ‘read the words’ was a fine education and summed up Colin’s devotion to the vagaries of the law; ‘as it was writ’. As the years passed I came to understand that the Firearms Acts were only a part of Colin’s knowledge and his mind, and his Papers, were forever questioning the various Governments, their civil servants and, especially, the police who he had served during his 25 year career on the Force.
Before we leave Colin’s contribution to shooting there is one more thing that I will mention, and this is one of the more famous of his utterances in meetings with the Authorities, and still rings around the corridors of power. At one time, many moons ago, there was a lady who held a senior position within the Home Office and she would Chair meetings with shooting stakeholders. At one of these meetings the lady in question proposed some new changes to legislation for which Colin thought there was little good reason. The crunch came when Colin loudly denied her proposal with the now famous words: ‘Where’s your evidence woman!’ Colin was not invited back to the Home Office for some long time after this outburst but the phrase has gone down in history and we still use it today. Thank you Colin.
Others, I am sure, will write more eloquently than I about Colin Greenwood but I pay tribute here to him and all that he did to protect our trade and our way of life.
Colin Greenwood. 1931 - 2017
Moving on; at present we are surrounded by Consultations on: Offensive & Dangerous Weapons (.50 cal. and MARS type rifles), proposals for implementing legislation to define antique firearms, (to which we have already submitted a response), and we await a Review of air weapon legislation, promised by the Minister, Nick Hurd, at the recent Adjournment debate in the House of Commons. Further to all this activity we are awaiting the outcome of a previous Consultation (and Home Office meetings), on Section 5, Club and Museum fees.
The Consultation on Offensive and Dangerous weapons was, to be honest, badly written and asked questions which could not be answered. For example, the Home Office asked for a ban on Section 1 .50 calibre ‘materiel destruction’ rifles whilst offering little concern for those .50 calibre target rifles, currently used by but a few dedicated civilian target shooters, and, also ignoring many large, .500, calibre sporting rifles. Further to this they introduced a proposed muzzle energy limit of 10,000 ft. lbs for .50 cal. which completely ignored the wording in the Consultation and asked for ‘views’ from stakeholders as to how this should all be dealt with. MARS type rifles were dealt with in similar vein, almost completely ignoring the fact that these rifles are absolutely not ‘self-loading’ as hinted at in the Consultation.
We gave very considerable thought to this particular Consultation before coming to the conclusion that the evidence in the Impact Assessment, and the Consultation, did not ring true and our only possible response was, and still is: ‘Where’s your evidence woman’, and this is reflected in our submission. Sadly it is thought that the famous Colin Greenwood phrase will be lost on the current Home Secretary!
As I write, a letter from the Home Office arrives containing a multitude of questions on air weapons. This is the Review of Air Weapon regulation in England & Wales, promised by the Minister at the Adjournment Debate in October.
The GTA has been deeply involved in air weapon issues for many years on our own account and on behalf of the Air Gun Manufacturers Trade Association (AMTA), which we represent in the political world, and, most recently, has been engaged in assisting the Home Office in the rewrite of their Air Weapon Safety leaflet and, on this occasion, has distributed some 30,000 of these safety leaflets. 25, 000 through the kind offices of Airgun World (in the latest edition of their best selling magazine), and a further 5,000 through manufacturers, importers and wholesalers of airguns. Airgun World carries an article, click HERE to view, written specifically to address the Review and contains quotes from the Minister himself reminding people of their obligations on the safety, security and safe use of airguns.
Make no mistake, this Review, prompted by a Coroner’s Report into the death of a teenager using an air weapon, poses serious questions which need to be answered in depth and with considerable thought. Amongst others the letter asks the question as to whether air weapon licensing should be introduced in England and Wales. Responses are needed by 6th February 2018 and we shall be contacting members for information early in the new year.
Holts / GTA Auction
I cannot leave you to your Christmas break without a reminder of the recent Holts Auction in which Holts most generously allocated a section of the auction with the proceeds going directly to the GTA. We have been working on this for several months now and, quite simply, went out to our members, and others in the trade, asking for donations of firearms and other interesting items for the auction.
The generosity of all who contributed was overwhelming and Holts auctioned more than 40 Lots on our behalf. The result, on the day, was that we raised some £40,000 for the coffers of our fighting fund to help us all in the research and lobbying which we are carrying out in the process of the dreaded Brexit. With these monies at our disposal we shall be better equipped to deal with the vagaries of import and export issues, firearms legislation and security into the future. Our very sincere thanks to all who donated and all who bid, and, most importantly a huge appreciation of the efforts, hard work and patience invested by Nick Holt, Chris Beaumont and all the splendid members of the Holts Team.
On behalf of the GTA, our Chairman and Council Members, may I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a profitable 2018.