Thomas Docherty’s Private Member’s Bill failed to be heard in late January thanks to lobbying from the Countryside Alliance (CA).
The CA produced a report with figures from every police force in England and Wales which shows that just two people under the age of 14 have had their shotgun certificates revoked in the period 2000-2010. In both of these cases the reasons for the certificate being withdrawn were completely unrelated to firearms crime; one for burglary and one for criminal damage. The CA believe these figures show “that young people take the responsibility of handling shotguns very seriously”, and that any efforts to restrict young people from taking up shooting should be condemned.
The report notes: “To impose a minimum age for a shotgun certificate would prevent young people from entering an exciting and rewarding sport. Inferences made by Thomas Docherty about the differences between our laws and other countries are misleading, and his suggestion that young people have “unfettered access” to shotguns is absolutely untrue. It can only be concluded that there is no basis for a minimum age for a shotgun certificate.”
The Shooting Campaign manager for the CA, David Taylor, said:
“There was no basis for Thomas Docherty’s bill – Thomas Docherty had no evidence that young people with shotgun certificates are a problem.
“Thomas Docherty misunderstood the rules surrounding young people in the first place. He was quoted as saying that young people with certificates have ‘unfettered access’ to guns, when everyone knows that isn’t the case at all.”
Richard Faulds, GB shooter and gold medal winner in the men’s double trap shooting discipline at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said:
“It is very important that young people aren’t prevented from getting involved in shooting. I had a shotgun certificate at the age of nine and competed for Britain at 13.
“Shooting taught me about responsibility and sportsmanship from a young age, and gave me the bug for competitive shooting that has seen me win 19 World Championship titles and gold at the Sydney Olympic Games.
“We must resist any attempts to stop young people getting into sport, and especially shooting.”